Tag Archives: IRV

Hi, I’m IRV

by Danny Muchoki The underlying assumption of elections is that they capture voters’ preferences. Voters go into a booth, push a button/punch a card/pop a chad and when they’re all counted up we know that the person who wins over … Continue reading

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Privately funded incumbent beats out nine publicly-funded opponents in San Francisco mayoral race

by Reid Schweitzer Over the last fifteen years, a growing movement in the US has called for the diminution of corporate and special interest money in elections by providing public funds for campaigns. In that time, sixteen states and a … Continue reading

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A time for change: an examination of Baltimore City’s record low voter turnout

by Ashley Ward As you drive through the streets of Baltimore City, many areas still bare the campaign efforts of the six mayoral candidates. Posters plastered on walls, fliers in store front windows and stickers on bumpers. The abundance of the … Continue reading

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Portland’s Instant-Runoff Mayoral Election: Innovative Voting, Constitutional Questions

On November 8, 2011, Portland, Maine residents will vote for mayor for the first time in nearly a century. For the past 88 years, Portland’s city councilors annually appointed the mayor. However, last year Portland residents voted to popularly elect the mayor. The impetus behind the change is the hope that an elected mayor will carry more political clout in Augusta, the State Capitol. This sudden creation of a very powerful political figure is drawing lots of attention from academics assessing the potential political impacts.

However, the election changes more than just Maine’s political balance and who chooses the mayor. It also establishes a controversial voting procedure for how the mayor is chosen. The 2011 mayor race will use instant-runoff voting (IRV), which encompasses voters’ preferential choices. Here’s how IRV works: each voter votes for as many candidates as he wants, ranking them from his first to last preference. The instant runoff ballot might look like this. Once the votes are collected, voters’ first choices are tallied. If any candidate carries more than 50% of the vote, then that candidate wins. However, given that there are 16 candidates in Portland’s mayoral race, it is extremely unlikely that one candidate will carry the necessary 50% of the vote. If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, then the candidate receiving the lowest number of first place votes is eliminated, and his votes are redistributed to the candidates his voters ranked as their second choice. This process is repeated from the bottom up until one candidate carries the necessary majority. Continue reading

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