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Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
~Kurt Vonnegut
Friday, May 23, 2003

IRV Capabilities in Michigan

This just came to my attention yesterday when reading The Daily Dilley.
Tom Ness sent me the following information and I hurriedly put together a few pages that will hopefully be useful in insuring that Michigan has the capabilities for Instant Runoff Voting in the future if voters decide they like the idea. Please consider writing a speedy letter to help facilitate this! Comments on Voting Equipment Upgrades for Michigan (sample letter)

Help America Vote Act (HAVA) The submission of Michigan's State Plan no later than July 1, 2003 is anticipated. At least six Advisory Committee meetings will be held in preparation for the submission of the State Plan. The public is encouraged to submit written comments/testimony at each session.

Let's Spend HAVA Millions Wisely! a plea by Tom Ness
Time is running out for Michigan citizens to speak up on how some $28-48 million dollars of federal money is to be spent on new voting machines mandated for as many as 92% of Michigan's voting precincts by Nov. 2004 as a result of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Passed in response to the Florida debacle in the 2000 presidential elections, HAVA provides substantial monies to most states for new voting equipment in an attempt to standardize voting procedures across the nation. As a result of HAVA, voting machines in at least 26% of Michigan's precincts MUST be replaced before the next presidential election.

[...] Michigan Focus On Reforming Elections (M-FORE) is a non-partisan citizen organization formed in December 2002, and includes many of the state's leading election reform experts. Based on their counsel and rapidly growing interest around the nation, M-FORE chose "Instant Runoff Voting" (IRV) as our first general goal.
Of course, the majority of Michigan citizens have never even heard of IRV. So if the HAVA Committee recommends voting machines for Michigan which cannot accommodate it, IRV will effectively be killed even before Michigan has a chance to consider the merits of this popular voting method. [more]

Greens Push Voting Reform
Special to The Oakland Press 05/18/2003

Traditionally, while minor political parties haven't had much success winning elections in America, they sometimes have pushed ideas, from votes
for women to Social Security, that have had an enormous impact.Michigan's tiny Green Party may be the latest on that path. As of now, the Greens probably couldn't win an election for dogcatcher on a liberal campus. But they have an intriguing idea to make elections more representative and more interesting - if they can just get other people to buy into it.
They call it Instant Runoff Voting - IRV for short. Here's how it would work: Voters would have the option of not just pulling the lever for one candidate, but ranking them in order of preference. If somebody won an overall majority, these "second-place" votes wouldn't be needed or counted. But if nobody has a majority, then the second-place votes would be added in to the mix. In multi-candidate elections, even third and fourth place votes might be needed.
There is little doubt that if IRV had been in effect three years ago, Al Gore would be president today.
The state is about to buy a lot of new voting equipment, thanks to HAVA - the Help America Vote Act - passed by Congress in the wake of the Florida debacle.

Michigan will get something like $48 million, state officials said, and is required to replace outdated voting equipment, such as old mechanical voting machines and Florida-style punch card ballots still used in hundreds of precincts.

Greens belatedly discovered this and are urging supporters of runoff voting to write to officials to urge equipment be purchased that will permit IRV, if and when a community wants to try it. They haven't much time, though: May 27 is cutoff day for public comment.[more]

Write to Jeanette Sawyer
Bureau of Elections
208 North Capitol
Lansing, MI 48933 (sample letter)
Also see: Center for Voting and Democracy for more information on IRV.
posted by Cyndy | link | | |


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