Sunday, March 8, 2009

Instant Runoff Voting re-elects mayor who 71% voted against

Instant runoff voting: 71% of voters voted against Bob Kiss but Instant Runoff Voting re-elected the Burlington Vermont Mayor. According to Garrison Nelson, a University of Vermont political science professor, incumbent Bob Kiss won with an "artificial majority" cooked up by instant runoff voting. Nelson questions the point of instant runoff voting since many voters did not mark a second or third choice. One of Kiss's opponents, Republican Kurt Wright has requested a recount in response to some voters lack of confidence in the election results.

Runoff sealed Kiss victory
Third-choice IRV ballots helped make Kiss a winner
By Sam Hemingway, Free Press Staff Writer • March 8, 2009

The votes that sealed Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss’ victory Tuesday came from people who had marked Kiss as their third choice for mayor, according to a review by The Burlington Free Press of the city’s instant-runoff vote system data.

...• Kiss won 51.5 percent of the votes in the third round of instant-runoff tabulation, but overall he won only 44.7 percent of the 8,980 votes that were initially cast. Just 29 percent of the voters made him their first-choice selection.

“It’s an artificial majority cooked up by the mechanics of IRV, not by the voters,” said Garrison Nelson, a University of Vermont political science professor and longtime observer of city politics. “The fact is, 71 percent of the voters voted against Kiss.”

Nelson said the data showing that so many people chose not to mark second and third choices in the contest raise questions about whether instant-runoff voting is a better way to elect someone than having a traditional runoff election at a later date.