San Jose Instant Runoff Voting Charter Amendment
Instant-runoff voting (IRV) lets voters rank their first, second and third choices among a field of candidates. If no candidate receives more than half of the first-choice votes, the second and, if necessary, third choice votes are applied immediately until one candidate has won a majority. This technique for holding elections would allow the city to avoid the cost of sponsoring a second runoff election.
The New America Foundation, along with Common Cause held a forum in San Jose in June 2009 where Sam Liccardo, a member of the San Jose City Council, spoke in favor of moving to an IRV system. Liccardo said, "The question is how we get there."
Benefits of IRV
Those who support IRV in San Jose mention these arguments in its favor:
- It costs San Jose less. Each election in San Jose costs between $250,000-$500,000.
- It is less expensive for candidates, since they only need to wage one campaign, rather than a primary election campaign followed by a general election campaign.
- Voters who prefer shorter campaigns may prefer IRV.
Concerns about IRV
- Administering an IRV election is more complicated and is "a hassle for elections officials."
- Shorter election cycles "provide less business for campaign consultants."
- Some believe that IRV helps fringe or marginal candidates win surprise victories.
- The runoff campaigns that IRV seeks to avoid allow voters to gain a more extensive look at the top two candidates.