# Instant-runoff Voting

Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Allow instant-runoff voting in Iowa elections

Jim Paprocki makes a strong case for instant-runoff voting in Saturday’s Des Moines Register:

Instant runoff voting is a winner-take-all system that, in only one election, ensures a winning candidate receives a majority of votes. This voting reform also is cost-effective because it eliminates the need for a separate runoff.

Instant runoff is consistent with Iowa’s caucus tradition. The Democratic Party caucuses allow participants to support their second-choice candidate when their first-choice candidate is no longer viable.

In instant runoff voting, each voter has an opportunity to make a second choice and third choice among candidates running in the election. If none of the candidates wins a majority, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated. The ballots of the voters who ranked that candidate as their first-choice are then redistributed to their second-choice candidate. The counting of ballots simulates a series of runoff elections. This process continues until one candidate receives a majority of all votes.

Although instant runoff voting may appear more complicated than our current voting system, it really is no different from stating a preference for A, B and C in the voting booth. Research shows that voters favor instant runoff voting and find it to be user-friendly.

Instant-runoff voting prevents longshot primary candidates or third-party general-election candidates from being “spoilers.” Voters can express their preference for the candidate who speaks for them and put the “lesser of two evils” down as a second choice.

Paprocki notes that the Iowa Code currently prohibits cities from introducing instant-runoff voting, so legislative action would be required to make this happen.

This may not be high on legislators’ priority lists, but considering the budget crunch affecting government at all levels, it would be wise to enact election reform that saves money while reflecting the will of the people.

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