Dismal runoff numbers show need to make instant runoffs work

By: - July 18, 2012 10:49 am

Adam Sotak of Democracy NC and Rob Richie of FairVote have a compelling op-ed that’s been running in multiple places around the state. The piece explains:

a) Why North Carolina needs to ditch its lame primary runoff system (a system that, once again, turned out only a tiny fragment of the electorate yesterday), and b) What it would take to make instant runoff voting work better than past experiments. It’s definitely worth a read. Here’s an excerpt:

“North Carolina has had several IRV elections, and three exit polls show voters overwhelmingly preferred it to returning to the polls for a runoff. Unfortunately, the state’s voting equipment currently requires “workarounds” that delay the count. Once North Carolina has optical scan equipment like others have, it would have an IRV tally to share on election night along with other results.

IRV has several advantages:

  • Taxpayers save time and money. Traditional runoffs are costly. Remarkably, N.C. legislators this year declined to provide $664,000 in state election funds needed to trigger more than $4 million in federal money to help our elections run smoothly. In light of that reasoning, it’s hard to justify forcing counties to pay for a low turnout runoff election that will cost millions of dollars to administer. Reducing the number of election days when all polling places must be open would allow administrators to spend their resources more efficiently.
  • Candidates are less likely to be indebted to special-interest contributors. Right now, candidates often fight to make the runoff and then find their campaigns strapped for cash, triggering a scramble for more money that has the potential for ethical abuses.
  • All votes will count and the winner gets a majority. By combining the two rounds of the runoff, IRV ensures maximum turnout in one election.
  • If IRV were adopted for November elections, third-party supporters could vote their true preference without worrying about spoiling the chance for success of the candidate they prefer between the two most likely winners. North Carolina likely would then finally get rid of its terrible ballot access laws.”

Read the piece as it appeared in the Charlotte O this morning by clicking here.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Rob Schofield
Rob Schofield

NC Newsline Editor Rob Schofield oversees day-to-day newsroom operations, authors and voices regular commentaries, and hosts the 'News & Views' weekly radio show/podcast.