Burlington Instant Run Off Voting Measure, (March 2010)

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There was a Burlington Instant Run Off Voting Measure on the March 2 ballot in Chittenden County for voters in the city of Burlington.

This measure was approved, meaning that IRV has been repealed.

  • YES 3,972 Approveda
  • NO 3,669[1]

This measure sought to repeal the instant runoff method that was currently in place for city elections. This measure was brought forth by a petition from local residents who wanted to change the voting method after a disputed Mayoral election in 2009. A public hearing was held on the issue and citizens came forward expressing both sides of the question. Proponents argued against the repeal, noting that this form of voting is easier for people and gives a candidate the 50 percent plus one majority to win. Opponents noted that the candidates who win do not truly end up with 50 percent of the vote so the system does not work.[2]

Proponents came to the defense of this form of voting, stating that by the other means only 40 percent is needed to win and that is not enough, in their view. Instant runoff voting was approved in 2005 by a large margin, in order to decide the mayoral winner for the city. Their main point is that 50 percent is what matters for a person to become elected, where as opponents have a one vote for one person as their main point of campaigning. Those in favor of keeping the current voting system are the Vermont Common Cause, Vermont Public Interest Research Group and The League of Women Voters of Vermont.[3] Former Vermont Governor Dean supports IRV because he said it promoted issue oriented campaigns and that it should not be repealed because someone lost they mayoral election and was unhappy about that.[4]

Campaign spending for both sides was reported, a major note in that 78 percent of the money for the proponent's campaign comes from sources out of the city of Burlington with only 17 of the opponent's funds from outside the city. Proponents noted that this issue is not just a local one but could have a wider impact.[5] Opponents though stated that the group supporting IRV should return outside money because Burlington voters cannot be bought, they say. But the proponents noted that many of their contributers are from within the town and they see no reason why outside interests cannot be represented.[6]

Further Reading