UTAH REPUBLICANS GEAR UP FOR MAY 8 IRV ELECTION Instant runoff voting keeps building momentum, with the controversy over Ralph Nader\\''s independent candidacy only adding to the understanding of how capricious election results can be with our plurality voting system.
One important example of IRV in action is in Utah. Starting in 2002, Utah Republicans have used instant runoff voting at their state party conventions nto elect officers and nominate candidates for federal and statewide offices. As in several other states (including Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Virginia), party conventions can play a significant role in deciding party nominations.
The traditional process in such conventions is to hold a series of votes to nominate candidates, with the voting dragging on for hours and the number of attenders dwindling before the decisive vote. Utah Republicans saw IRV as a means to accomplish the goal of selecting a candidate more quickly and efficiently. Once the field at the convention is narrowed by IRV to two candidates, any candidate winning at least 60% becomes the nominee without a primary election; if no candidate wins 60%, the top two advance to a primary.
Republicans dominate the state, making their nominations critically important. On May 8, some 3,500 Republicans will gather. The greatest attention this year is on the gubernatorial race. Former governor Mike Leavitt was named to run the Environmental Protection Agency, and eight Republican candidates are aggressively seeking votes in what is tantamount to an open seat election.
In addition to ensuring a higher rate of participation in the decisive round of voting, IRV is having a positive impact on party unity and the tenor of the campaign. Here are comments from one long-time political reporter in his column in the Deseret News:
In any case, preferential balloting is changing how candidates in big \nraces, \nwith a lot of challengers, campaign, several campaign managers tell me. \\"It \n leads to a kindlier, gentler campaigning,\\" said one manager. \\"That\\''s \nbecause \nit\\''s important that you are No. 2 on a ballot, because the guy listed as No. \n1 \ncould be eliminated before you and you then pick up his vote\\" in subsequent \nrounds of balloting, he said. \n . ...So, in a preferential voting convention you talk about yourself, \nhow \nyou can thump that Democrat in the final election, and so on. You stay \npositive. \nYou save any negative campaigning for the primary. There it\\''s one-vote takes \nall. And you can bloody a fellow Republican as much as you think the \npublic can take it.>> \n \nTo read more about developments in Utah and an illuminating analysis of the \n12-person race for one of the congressional nominations in 2002, visit our \nwebpage on IRV in Utah at: http://fairvote.org/irv/utahindex.html \n