|Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) can transform elections from a choice of “the lesser of two evils” to an opportunity for voters to express their true preferences for candidates they favor. At the Radical Reimagining Fair held Feb 15 at Oregon State University in Corvallis, the Linn/Benton Chapter showed that the IRV process is feasible and could produce an outcome that improves the election system as well as the attitude of the voting public|
At the Fair a mock presidential election was provided for visitors to the Pacific Green Party’s table, staffed by the Linn/Benton Chapter. There, 71 participants expressed their choices by ranking eight hypothetical candidates for U.S President (2 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 1 Libertarian, I Green, 1 Independent, and 1 write-in). Each “voter” couldrank up to 8 candidates.
Three candidates received no first-choice votes, and four voters put their write-ins first.No candidate received a majority of first-choice votes (36 in this case), but eventually Elizabeth Warren “won” the mock IRV election, and Jill Stein was runner-up. The result came after candidates receiving the lowest number of votes were removed, one by one, with their voters’ second-choices being transferred to the first-choice column.
After reassigning votes from voters who put write-ins first, Hillary Clinton, next lowest, was removed, and then Bernie Sanders; their voters’ second-choices went to the first-choice column. Warren had 24 first-choice votes and 21 second-choice votes and Steinhad 21 first-choice and 16 second-choice votes. Thus, the high standing of these two candidates agreed with the IRV-tabulated outcome.
The exercise showed that the process is feasible and could produce an outcome that improves the election system as well as the attitude of the voting public; it used well-known, specific candidates to illustrate the process, not to support any particular candidate. The Pacific Green Party is grateful to Spring Creek organizers for making this exercise possible.