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Tag: Ranked-Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting in Maine

By: Emily Wagman

On October 19, 2015, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting delivered 70,000 signatures to Maine’s Secretary of State. While the signatures still must be verified, it is likely that the proposal will make it onto the 2016 ballot. Ranked choice voting is also referred to as instant runoff voting, which allows voters to rank their candidates in order of preference. If a voter’s first choice does not win, the voter’s vote moves to his/her second choice candidate. The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting has support from all sides of the political spectrum. Voters in Maine are especially concerned with the idea of majority rule since the current Governor, Paul LePage, won his first term with only 38% of the vote, which is not exactly a ringing majority endorsement. Moreover, voters are also concerned with the issue of spoiler candidates. The most recent gubernatorial election saw a three-way race between LePage (R), Mike Michaud (D), and Eliot Cutler (I). The results of that election show that Cutler was a spoiler candidate – LePage received 48.2% of the vote, Michaud received 43.4% of the vote, and Cutler received 8.4% of the vote. Had the votes Cutler received gone to Michaud, LePage would have been unseated.

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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 campaign fanfare throughout the city turned out to be a rouge when the September 13th primary produced the lowest voter turnout in Baltimore’s history. After the  polls closed, 23% of registered voters had participated, equaling only 12% of the city’s population (rounded from the Unofficial Polling Place Turnout). Even more disappointing was the turnout for the November 8th general election, which produced an even lower turnout than the primaries—reportedly, only 10-12% of registered voters showed. Until September, the lowest turnout Baltimore had seen for a primary was 27% in 1991.

Maryland is not the only state dealing with disappointingly low voter turnout. Kentucky’s November 8th gubernatorial race had only a 29% turnout, and New Jersey saw their lowest turnout in history with 26%. So what is causing such low voter turnout and should there be concern with a Presidential election year approaching? Many scholars and political analysts have their own theories. One of the most popular reasons is voter apathy. The 2010 census reported that the highest population within the 20-24 years and 25-29 years age group. The Unofficial Polling Place Turnout reported that both ages were the least likely to vote, especially the males within the age group. When asked why he did not vote, 21 year old Kevin Clark said, “It was all the same old stuff.”  Many younger citizens do not understand the importance of voting. Continue reading

All states (IRV): The courts got it right: recognizing that instant runoff voting makes every vote count

by: Guest Contributor Elise Helgesen


This November, Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), also called ranked choice voting, will be used for fiercely contested elections for mayor in San Francisco (CA), Portland (ME), and Telluride (CO) as well as for city council elections in St. Paul (MN) and Takoma Park (MD). IRV is also used abroad: Ireland will elect its president with IRV this month, and London will use IRV for mayoral elections in 2012. As recommended by Robert’s Rules of Order, more than 50 American colleges and universities now elect their student leaders with IRV.

With IRV, voters get one vote and one ballot, but get to rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate wins with a first-choice majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their supporters’ second choices are added to the totals of the remaining candidates in an “instant runoff.” The process of elimination and redistribution continues until one candidate has a majority. Continue reading

The Runoff Debate Intensifies in Rhode Island Following Governor’s Race

Lincoln Chafee, a former United States Senator, emerged as the winner of this year’s Rhode Island gubernatorial race.  Chafee received only 36% of the vote in a close election that featured three viable candidates.  Additionally, a fourth candidate finished with 6.5% of the vote, which represents about twice the amount of Chafee’s margin of victory.  Few can argue that Governor-elect Chaffee lacks the experience necessary to govern, but the real question in Rhode Island is whether a candidate who receives less than 40% of the vote should be deemed the winner of a statewide election.  Some states’ laws require an additional runoff election that whittles down the number of candidates when no one candidate receives a majority.  Many Rhode Islanders, including term-limited outgoing Governor Donald Carcieri, called for the institution of a runoff election following this year’s race. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

No More Polling Places?: The Colorado legislature is considering a new bill that would eliminate polling places and instead conduct all state-wide elections by mail only. Over 70% of Colorado voters already vote by mail, and the proposal would save the state $12 million annually.

The More the Merrier: The race for San Francisco mayor has an expanding field, as more candidates join the field, thanks to the use of ranked-choice voting. The system, which has been used since 2004, created a successful “Anyone but _____” campaign in the 2010 elections and is shaping up to lead to the same results this year.

300 Taxpayer Dollars an Hour to Fight the Popular Vote: The fight over Amendment 6 in Florida continues as the Florida House has joined the lawsuit filed by two Congressional representatives. The lawsuit, which has cost taxpayers $700,000 and counting, contends that the amendment to redraw congressional districts (supported by more than 60% of the popular vote) is unconstitutional.

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Weekly Wrap Up

“I want to be your second (or third) choice!”: Jean Quan, Oakland’s mayor-elect, won under the city’s new ranked-choice system by concentrating on being voters’ second and third choice, if they were voting for someone else. The campaign manager for Don Pereta, the heavy favorite in the race, said Quan was “gaming the system” by asking people who supported other candidates to rank her second or third.

Too poor to vote: The ACLU is challenging a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals 2-1 decision that Tennessee could bar three released felons who were behind on child support or restitution from regaining their voting rights. The ACLU is asking for the court to rehear the case en banc, arguing that the decision creates an unconstitutional poll tax.

Sound it out: In the Alaska Senate race, the Division of Elections has only accepted a few of Joe Miller’s challenges to the spelling of his opponent, Lisa Murkowski’s, name on the write-in ballots.  The Director of the Division of Elections said that she was accepting minor spelling mistakes as long as she could “pronounce the name by the way it’s spelled.”

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: The spending from outside groups in this campaign season has reached record highs, climbing almost to the $300 million mark.  Now, a new study has shown that nearly half of that money comes from groups which won’t reveal the money’s source.  A few notable candidates who used a huge amount of their personal fortunes are Meg Whitman in California and Linda McMahon in Connecticut.  They spent $140 million and $46 million respectively.

Weekly Wrap-Up

“Lisa M. Write In and Fill In” is the proposed slogan from supporters of Lisa Murkowski’s proposed write-in campaign.  Alaska elections director said that voters would only have to use Murkowski’s first name and last initial for it to count, but that they would also have to be sure to fill in the bubble next to her name.  The actual vote is the filled in bubble, not the written name.

Carl P. Paladino, a Republican candidate for governor in New York, sent out a typical negative mailing stating that “Something really stinks in Albany.” However, the ad is anything but typical as soon as a person opens the envelope and is greeted with the “unmistakable odor” of “rotting vegetables.” Read this article for more info. Continue reading

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