You’ve probably heard: Saint Paul had its first “Instant Runoff Vote” last week.
And I think the results demonstrated why so many cities that have tried to implement IRV have repealing it.
Doug Bass was less unimpressed by it than I was, and he helpfully ran an instant replay on the St. Paul Ward 2 “Instant Runoff”; 61% of Ward 2 voters initially rejected incumbent councilman Dave Thune, who won after three rounds of counting. Bass unpacks the whole process (read the whole thing).
At this point, Im willing to accept that IRV provides a reasonable snapshot of the will of the people, until shown otherwise. I would like to see the returns in more detail. For example, out of all the first choice ballots for Thune, how were the second choices distributed? Did a ballot with Thune as the fifth choice put him over the top? Someone might say its none of my business. But that doesnt keep me from wondering.
I have more pedestrian worries. The campaigns this time around seemed to worry more about how to game the ranked-choice system than they did on actually talking issues. Granted, it’s a one-party city, so they never have to actually talk issues.
Which is a signal fact of Instant Runoff Voting; it seems to get adopted in one-party cities like Saint Paul, Minneapolis, Tacoma and the like. Could it work in a place with competitive races?
We may never know. I’m not aware that it’s been tried. And even many of the one-party cities that adopted it in a wave of fanfare over the past decade are quietly retiring the idea.
What do they know that we don’t?
It’s mostly a rhetorical question.