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Electoral measure not a binding mandate

Chris Kavanagh
Friday July 12, 2002

To The Editor, 

As reported in the Daily Planet's July 4 from page article on Instant Runoff Voting(IRV), many Berkeley citizens, including myself, feel a tremendous sense of disappointment and regret that five of the Berkeley City Council's nine members voted to reject on June 11 a modest proposal that would have directed city staff members to research the operational potential and feasibility of Instant Runoff Voting for future city elections. 

The above City Council motion would have placed a measure on the November, 2002 ballot allowing Berkeley voters themselves to decide democratically whether IRV is worth investigating or not. To repeat, this was a measure seeking only electoral research, it was not a binding mandate. 

IRV is the ballot procedure whereby a voter ranks two or more candidates by a simple "first, second, third, etc" selection/marking process. 

IRV eliminates the need for expensive, low turn-out runoff elections usually held 30 days after the initial general election. 

In Berkeley, past December run-off elections (30 days after the initial November election) have cost the city $200,000 while seeing voter turn-out typically plummet by 50 percent or more.  

The IRV ballot ranking procedure has been used successfully in Ireland and Australia, among other countries, for decades. In San Francisco, the upcoming November, 2002 election will use IRV for all candidate races. Oakland, San Leandro and Santa Clara County have all passed IRV ordinances. In August, 2002, Alaska's citizens will vote on a state-wide IRV ballot initiative. In Vermont, town hall meetings across the state recommended use of IRV this past March. 

IRV is a simple and proven voting method that has gained acceptance in communities across the US. I urge Berkeley citizens to contact their respective City Councilmembers to ask that Berkeley voters be allowed a future opportunity to decide whether or not IRV is appropriate for their city.  


Chris Kavanagh