Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Instant Runoff Lawsuit Heads to Court in Minnesota

The Minnesota Voters Alliance's lawsuit heading to Hennepin County Minnesota District Court argues that Instant Runoff Voting is unconstitutional. IRV was adopted by referendum in Minneapolis Minnesota. The city of St. Paul, MN had received a petition to let their voters decide on whether to adopt IRV, but attorneys advised that IRV was probably unconstitional, and recommended not putting the referendum on the city ballot until the Hennepin County case was settled.

Instant runoff voting heads to court
by Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio October 8, 2008

...St. Paul, Minn. — The idea seems simple enough. Instead of making voters pick one candidate, instant runoff voting lets voters rank candidates by preference. In theory, it would avert controversies such as the 2000 presidential race, when Green Party contender Ralph Nader was called a spoiler. Instant runoff voting would have let his supporters still vote for him - even though his chances of winning were slim - and also choose between the top two contenders. San Franscisco and Cambridge, Massachusetts already use similar systems. But it's not as simple as it sounds. A plan to change the way Minneapolis votes, and maybe the way the whole state votes, is raising doubts. Opponents have raised legal, political and even mathematical questions about the method. And, they're heading for a constitutional showdown before Hennepin County District Court Judge George McGunnigle.

...Andy Cilek is with the Minnesota Voters Alliance and his group is suing Minneapolis to block IRV. He said ballots are for picking winners and losers and that IRV will interfere with the way that's supposed to happen. By ranking other candidates, Cilek argues, a voter may wind up hurting the candidate he or she favors most.

On the other hand, a voter simply might not find a second choice acceptable. Cilek said that if one voter doesn't rank the rest of the field, and a neighbor does, the neighbor effectively gets more votes, Cilek says.

The Voters Alliance said that violates the constitutional principal of "one person, one vote." And that's the basis of the legal challenge in Minneapolis.
...more at the link