News

League of Women Adopts Study of Election Reform

At their state convention in May 2003, the League of Women Voters of

Minnesota decided to conduct a study of alternative voting methods and

investigate their merits relative to the plurality and two-round methods

currently used in Minnesota. A committee was formed to organize the effort.

The committee recently issued the following statement, also available

at http://www.lwvmn.org/PressRelease20030826.asp.

From the League of Women Voters of Minnesota

Tuesday, August 26th, 2003, is the 83rd anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

This landmark legislation, which passed in 1920, granted women the right

to vote. The League plans to use this occasion to reflect upon the positive

changes and progress made on voting rights in the past 83 years and emphasize

the continued need to improve our election process.

In light of this need, the League of Women Voters of Minnesota has

adopted a new study, "Change in the Voting Booth: Would an Alternative

Voting System Serve Democracy Better?" The study will evaluate Minnesota's

current plurality (as opposed to majority) system of voting, as well

as three alternative systems: approval voting, instant runoff voting

and the Borda count method.

The study is co-chaired by Jane Gilley of the Duluth League, and Marsha

Oliver of the Arden Hills/Shoreview League. According to Gilley, "These

three alternative systems are the most compatible with our current system

and would require relatively few changes to implement. Our study will

be limited to elections in which there is a single winner, such as governor

or mayor, rather than elections in which there is more than one winner,

such as city council or school board."

"Each of the four voting systems will be evaluated against a set of

criteria that represent desirable characteristics of an election system.

The challenges include the fact that no electoral system is perfect and

desirable characteristics may be mutually exclusive. How you count the

votes in each system significantly changes the election's outcome." Oliver

stated.

Local leagues will study the pros and cons of each system in the spring

of 2004. The goal is to come to consensus and adopt a new position on

voting systems by September, 2004.

"The League of Women Voters, founded by women suffragists after passage

of the 19th Amendment, has worked tirelessly for the past 83 years as

a voice for citizens and a force for change. League members across the

nation continue the fight to improve and reform our election systems

for the benefit of all citizens regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity.

We're working here in Minnesota to make the system better until every

voice is heard and every vote counts," Palmer stated.

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