State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Run-off

Louisiana Election Delays

By: Nicholas Brookings

When one thinks of changes to elections, the most common things that come to mind are voting by mail, changes to identification requirements and election locations, and so on. What one does not think about as often are changes to the actual day the election takes place, and yet that change, albeit temporary, has taken place in Louisiana for the 2021 election. This is due to Hurricane Ida, and the massive damage it caused. Indeed, the secretary of state, Kyle Ardoin, stated that 42% of Louisiana voters were impacted by the storm. Power is still out in some effected areas, and some voting locations are still damaged. As a result, the state decided to postpone the elections, moving everything back around a month, with the October 9th elections occurring on November 13th. The run-offs, which were scheduled for November 13th, are now to be held on December 11th. The governor did this through LA R.S. 18:401.1, the election emergency statute for Louisiana.

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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

What’s Geauxing On: Everybody’s Copying Louisiana?

When one thinks of Louisiana, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is likely not “model for electoral reform.”  This, after all, is the electoral system that in recent years has brought a veritable parade of politicians whose terms in office have transitioned into terms in prison on corruption charges.  That’s why it may come as a surprise that there are movements afoot in states across the country to adopt the most unique element of Louisiana’s electoral system.

In 1976, Louisiana adopted a non-partisan blanket primary system for both its state and congressional elections.  Also known as an “open” or “top-two” primary, this unique system puts candidates of every party on the same ballot for the primary.  If any one candidate receives a majority of votes, that candidate is elected without any need for a general election.  If, as frequently happens when there are more than two candidates on the ballot, no candidate wins a majority of votes, the top-two candidates go on to a run-off general election. The goal of open primaries is to promote the election of more moderate candidates.  The theory, however, is controversial. Continue reading

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