News

Arkansas Secretary of State proposes IRV

From the Center for Voting and Democracy

Last month, the Arkansas State Election Improvement Study Commission releaseda report recommending various changes in election law in Arkansas. In a minorityreport, Secretary of State Sharon Priest, who chaired the commission, and fromJuly 2000 to July 2001 was president of the National Association of Secretariesof State, recommended the adoption of instant runoff voting for judicialelections.

The commission had recommended moving judicial elections to November, with alate- November runoff if there was no majority winner. Turnout likely wouldplunge in the decisive round of voting. The commission a whole may not havevoted on IRV. Ms. Priest prefaces her minority report with "the followingrecommendations represent areas the study commission either did not address orleft incomplete."

TheArkansas report is online at http://www.sosweb.state.ar.us._퉌

Below is the relevant section (excerpted) on instant runoff voting.

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Additional Findings and Recommendations

By Secretary of State Sharon Priest

The biggest challenge for Arkansas is consistency county-by county in theadministration of election law. The following recommendations represent areasthe study commission either did not address or left incomplete. The ArkansasState Election Improvement Study Commission recommended moving the Non-PartisanJudicial General Election to coincide with November General Election. To furthercomplement this move, I recommend the implementation of instant run-offs forjudicial candidates.Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is a simple voting method usedto select a single winner from a list of two or more candidates. By collectingmore meaningful information from voters, it gives them a greater power of choiceand measures their will more accurately. This process was invented in the UnitedStates and has been used in Australia and Ireland for many decades.
Under Instant Runoff Voting, instead of choosing just one candidate voters rankthe candidates. For voters it is simple to understand, they just pick a firstchoice, a second choice, a third choice, and so on. These rankings are used tosimulate a series of runoff elections, in which the last-place candidates areeliminated one by one. Each time a candidate is eliminated, the people who votedfor him/her have their vote go to their next-choice candidate. Eventuallysomeone gets a majority. This innovative voting option ensures majority rule,boosts voter turnout (low turnout for runoff elections), and makes your votecount. As for voting systems, most electronic systems currently in use have IRV-compatibleequipment and paper ballots are commonly used for this method of voting(overseas).

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