Monday, March 23, 2009

Instant Runoff Voting dealt setback by Minnesota Democrats DFL

The most influential political party in Minnesota has done major damage to the Instant Runoff Voting cause. The Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) took a vote on a resolution to endorse Instant Runoff Voting on a sample ballot and the measure failed. This will have impact because 1. the DFL IS the Minnesota arm of the National Democratic Party; 2. the DFL has its roots in third-party protest movements; and 3. the DFL convention was held in St. Paul, where a ballot measure to enact IRV there has been tabled until a court case is settled. Some prominent democrats joined in opposition because instant runoff voting would make the ballots more complex.

DFL delegates deal blow to instant-runoff voting
By Paul Demko 3/23/09
The Minnesota Independent

The ongoing U.S. Senate contest may have produced an unlikely victim: instant-runoff voting

The controversial balloting system, in which voters rank candidates in order of preference, was on the agenda at Saturday’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention in St. Paul. At issue was whether the DFL should lend its blessing to a campaign aimed at adopting instant-runoff voting (IRV). Most significantly, this would mean that the party’s sample ballot — mailed to thousands of potential voters in the days leading up to an election — would instruct DFLers to vote yes on the ballot question.

...The upshot: The DFL’s sample ballot will not instruct voters to support the adoption of IRV. While this may seem like a trifling development, in a city that votes overwhelmingly Democratic it could have a discernible effect on the outcome of the ballot referendum.

...St. Paul City Councilman Dave Thune (pictured) and veteran DFL activist Chuck Repke led the opposition to the measure at Saturday’s convention.

....Thune believes IRV would only compound such problems and disenfranchise voters. “While this may seem like a wonderful thing in Cambridge for a bunch of Harvard professors, we’ve got a general population that has trouble filling out one oval in a Coleman-Franken race,” he says.

What’s more, Thune argues that certain populations of voters, such as the disabled, immigrants whose first language isn’t English, the elderly –”all the people that supposedly as Democrats and liberals we’re bound to protect,” he notes–would be disproportionately affected by a more complex balloting system.