Sunday, May 23, 2010

Instant Runoff Voting does NOT empower communities of color and may harm them

The latest false claim about instant runoff voting is that it magically "empowers communities of color". That is what the New America Foundation is claiming in a opinion piece piece listing Blair Bobbier as author. But Bobbier does not provide any documentation to support his claims, and I can provide you documentation to refute them. Lets just keep it simple:


Whites only: If instant runoff voting "empowers communities of color" then WHY does Takoma Park MD
continue to elect an all white city council?

IRV is bad for voters. A 2008 Grand Jury advised SF that voters and poll workers
did not understand IRV.

IRV eliminates opportunity. In a radio interview, former SF Mayor Willie Brown said that IRV is really, really bad, "it eliminates opportunity". Listen here.
NC NAACP leader on IRV: "I am absolutely to the core opposed to instant runoff voting. And I believe that the issue of Instant runoff voting has clouded the discussions. And I want to make it very clear that that will cost the city money, not save the city money. Because I promise you that I will be protecting my right to vote, with legal action should you choose to do that. . Stella Adams - Vice Chair of NC Democratic Party and Housing Chair and Economic Empowerment Coordinator at NC NAACP speaking at Durham North Carolina City Council meeting.
Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People: This whole idea is that voting is a landmark of the people… even if its expensive. We spend a whole a lot of money on…..Just vote it down (non partisan plurality elections).I’m not going to be for instant runoff voting either....." Dr. Lavonia Allison - President of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People at Durham City Council meeting April 7, 2009.
Cary NC voters survey: 30.6% of Cary, NC voters had trouble understanding IRV, and 22.0% of Cary voters did not understand IRV at all according to Cary's 2008 bi-annual citizen survey
Hendersonville NC voters poll: 19.4% of Hendersonville NC voters polled came to the polls in 2009 unprepared to rank their choices according to a survey by Professor Michael Cobb. of NCSU.
San Francisco voters survey. According to studies by the Public Research Institute at SF State University:

The proportion of voters who had prior knowledge of RCV was lower in 2005 (54%) than in the 2004 election for the Board of Supervisors (67%).

- Those with lower rates of prior knowledge tended to be those who were less educated, reported having lower incomes, and spoke a primary language other than Spanish.

IRV is all pretty smoke and mirrors, and the pro IRV claims just don't pan out. Instant runoff voting is bad for voters, bad for election transparency and bad for democracy.

Instant runoff voting is an overly complicated system, “a system which, on paper, persuaded people to give it a try but in reality resulted in a very confusing and poor system.” ~ Ewing, a longtime Democratic leader in Burlington Vermont on why the city abandoned IRV.

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