IRV supporters say system reduces negative campaigning

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(Host) According to supporters of instant run off voting, the amount of negativity in Vermont campaigns would be significantly reduced if IRV is implemented at the statewide level.

IRV is used only when no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote and it allows voters to list the candidates by preference. The second choice preferences of the candidates with the lowest vote totals are tabulated until one candidate emerges with a majority of votes.

Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, VPIRG director Paul Burns said he believes IRV will have a positive impact on state campaigns:

(Burns) “Because they don’t want to jeopardize a possible second choice from voters, even if they’re not the first choice of somebody, So I think it can lead to a better kind of campaign in that way. And yet they still need to talk about the issues in order to distinguish themselves from other candidates and get enough first place ballots that they will be in a runoff if a run off takes place. So I think it makes sense all the way around.”

(Host) But former Burlington Democratic Representative Sandy Baird says IRV is a distortion of the electoral system and she favors a real run off election:

(Baird) “This is not a runoff system, this is a fancy way of gaining a majority out of essentially what is a plurality. A much more democratic way to do this is to have a new election between the top two .have a chance to campaign again to look for new votes, new issues. That is the most democratic way to go, to have an election in which you know who you’re voting for.”

(Host) The Senate Government Operations Committee is considering a plan to ask the Secretary of State to conduct a comprehensive study concerning the pros and cons of implementing IRV at the statewide level.

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