Clallam County Commissioners to consider Resolution for Instant Runoff Voting

by Sue Forde, Guest Editorial

Clallam County, WA  – At the Board of County Commissioners’ (BOCC) work session to be held on Dec. 14, 2020, commissioners will be presented with a resolution for consideration to promote the idea of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), otherwise known as “Ranked-Choice Voting.”  (See proposed resolution) (see email from Stokan to BOCC)

The Clallam County Home Rule Charter Commission (HRC) is recommending that the BOCC pass a resolution “calling on the state legislature to pass legislation, which would enable the county (and other jurisdictions in the state) to adopt Ranked-Choice Voting for local elections, if they so choose.”

Therese Stokan, HRC Commissioner and sponsor of the proposed resolution, will make a presentation to the Board along with Lisa Ayrault, Director for FairVote Washington, a champion of IRV. IRV is promoted nationally by Fairvote.  The Fairvote board includes a representative of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)  was originally brought to the Home Rule Charter Commission in 2007, where it was placed on the ballot – and was defeated by almost 56% of the voters.  Testimony by proponents disclosed that to change our voting machines and system to an Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) system would be very expensive to the taxpayers.  It is also a complicated system.

And, as you’ll see below, it effectively removes the “one man, one vote” premise upon which our nation was founded.

The HRC Commission voted in favor of forwarding the proposed resolution in a vote of 10-4 with one absent at their meeting held on Oct. 22, 2020. Commissioners voting in favor were: Jim Stoffer, Tony Corrado, Sue Erzen, Candace Pratt, Mary Doherty, Patti Morris, Nina Richards, Norma Turner, Theresa Stokan and Andrew May; Commissioners who voted in opposition were: David Lotzgesell, Ron Cameron, Joseph Murray and Rod Fleck. A vote was not received from Don Corson.

Stokan points to State law changing in favor of a “Top Two” primary system.  Before that happened, however, there was another Home Rule Charter County – Pierce County, WA – which actually passed an amendment to use IRV as their voting system.  After only two years, they repealed it.  There are other cities and counties across the nation that have tried using the IRV system, and a number of them have repealed it, as well. (See video “Memphis County Instant Runoff Voting” below.)

Here’s more information about the Pierce County WA issue:

A Pierce County newspaper’s editorial board’s statement issues a warning: “”Look back to the 2006 charter review cycle for an example of a commission taking a wrong turn. Ranked-choice voice was the next cool election idea, winning the support of the commission, the voters and this newspaper’s editorial board. But instead of being as “easy as 1-2-3,” RCV caused rampant confusion and was repealed a few years later. It would behoove this year’s review panel to remember that mistake.”

Stokan points to the Washington State League of Women Voters (LWV) as endorsing alternative voting systems including IRV.  The national League of Women Voters (LWV), however, in their promotion of the idea, also point out a number of flaws in the system, including;

      • The ballots and the counting of the ballots will be more expensive;
      • The “vetting” is less clear;
      • You could still fail to get a candidate with a majority; and
      • it may be complicated to determine who will be allowed on the ballot.

What is IRV?

According to Wikipedia, Instant-runoff voting is a type of ranked preferential voting counting method used in single-seat elections with more than two candidates. Instead of indicating support for only one candidate, voters in IRV elections can rank the candidates in order of preference.

In other words if there are 5 candidates running for one position, the voter ranks them in order of their preference, 1 through 5.  There is only one election involved, rather than a primary and a general election.

In order to determine the winner, according to

      1. Instant runoff voting uses ranked choice ballots to simulate a traditional runoff in a single round of voting. Voters rank candidates in order of preference. They typically are given the option to rank as many or as few candidates as they wish. Indicating support for a lesser choice never counts your higher choices.
      2. Every voter has one vote. That vote is counted initially for a voter’s first choice.
      3. If there are more than two candidates who receive votes, the last-place candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. More than one candidate can be eliminated simultaneously if their combined vote is less than the total of any other remaining candidate.
      4. Ballots counting for the eliminated candidate are added to the totals of the candidate ranked next on each ballot.
      5. This process of eliminating last-place candidates and adding ballots cast for those candidates to the totals of the next-ranked choice on that ballot continues until two candidates remain.

The candidate with the majority of votes in this final round is declared the winner.

For a good explanation, view the short videos below.

Instant Runoff Voting – False Majorities – Is IRV a Fairvote? Watch the video below – which includes Pierce County WA – also a Home Rule Charter County, and how they decided after using the IRV, to repeal it.

Is Instant Runoff Voting Fair? (AKA Alternative Vote – AV)  (Video below) Instant Runoff Voting allows some voters a second vote. Is the IRV winner proportional to the representative support of the voters?

Memphis Council Instant Runoff Voting Example(Video below) More votes can make you LOSE!)

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