Common Dreams NewsCenter

We Can't Do It Without You!

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives | Search

Home > Progressive Community > NewsWire > For Immediate Release
Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
FairVote: What If They Had a Runoff and Nobody Came?

June 27, 2008
10:48 AM

Rob Richie, Executive Director,, (301) 270-4616
Torrey Dixon, FairVote North Carolina Director,
Aurelie Marfort, Communications,

What If They Had a Runoff and Nobody Came?
Record Low Turnout in North Carolina Makes Case for Instant Runoff Voting Method Backed by Senators John McCain and Barack Obama
June 26 - On June 24th election workers had a lonely experience in polling places in North Carolina such a precinct in New Hanover that recorded one vote. After unusually high voter turnout in the May 6 primary timed with the presidential primary, last Tuesday's runoff elections beat the record of the lowest turnout ever in North Carolina. Turnout for the runoff for the Democratic State Labor Commissioner nomination was less than 2%, dropping to 0.8% in Mecklenburg where the election cost more than $120 per voter. Statewide the Labor Commissioner runoff cost between 3.5 million and 5 million dollars to counties.

FairVote North Carolina director Torrey Dixon commented, "Ensuring winners of party nominations are not opposed by a majority of primary voters is a laudable goal. But the delayed, two-round runoff used in North Carolina isn't working. It's time to follow the suggestion of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama and adopt instant runoff voting in North Carolina."

With instant runoff voting, voters have the option to rank candidates in order of preference rather than select only one choice. If no candidate receives a first choice majority, the two candidates with the most votes advance to the runoff. Ballots cast for eliminated candidates are added to the totals of the runoff candidates according to which candidate is ranked next on each ballot.

Instant runoff voting (IRV) is not new to North Carolina. Last year it was used to replace two rounds of voting for Cary (NC) and Hendersonville (NC) municipal elections. Dr. Michael Cobb, NC State University political science professor, reports that voters in both cities strongly preferred their new voting method to runoff elections.

Disappointed by the voter turnout, the runoff winner Mary Donnan wants to open a discussion on IRV as a solution to boost voter turnout for statewide elections. Sen. Barack Obama was the prime sponsor of Illinois legislation in 2002 to establish IRV for primaries, while Sen. John McCain that year recorded a phone announcement to support IRV in Alaska.

Instant runoff voting's advantages over delayed runoffs include: 1) less money spent on running elections; 2) less demands for candidates on raising money; 3) higher turnout in one decisive election; 4) greater certainty that overseas and military voters will have their vote count.

FairVote is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that studies the impact of electoral rules and systems on turnout, representation and electoral competition. To view more on instant runoff voting, visit and and call (301) 270-4616.


Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
Common Dreams NewsCenter is a non-profit news service
providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.

The press release posted here has been provided to Common Dreams NewsWire by one of the many progressive organizations who make up America's Progressive Community. If you wish to comment on this press release or would like more information, please contact the organization directly.
*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)

Making News?
Read our Guidelines for Submitting News Releases is an Internet-based progressive news and grassroots activism organization, founded in 1997.
We are a nonprofit, progressive, independent and nonpartisan organization.

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives | Search

To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.