Upcoming referendum on ballot could eliminate Instant Runoff Voting

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Oct. 1, 2018 at 9:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Right now when we vote, we select one candidate per race.

Voters in elections who use the Instant Runoff Voting method rank candidates in order of preference.

Memphis voters approved IRV a decade ago, although it's never been tried here.

City council approved a referendum appearing on next month's ballot that would repeal IRV.

"Instant runoff voting makes elections more competitive, which incumbent politicians don't like,” said attorney Steve Mulroy.

Mulroy is leading the charge to save Instant Runoff Voting.

Memphis voters approved it in 2008, thinking it was a better option than special runoff elections, which traditionally have low voter turnout and are costly for taxpayers.

"We have never implemented instant runoff voting because the election commission falsely said our voting machines couldn't handle it,” Mulroy said.

Elections administrator Linda Philips, in charge now since 2016, says it is possible, and it will be put to use in the Memphis City election in 2019.

That is, unless voters do away with Instant Runoff Voting in November.

"The data shows it disenfranchises voters,” said City Councilman Edmund Ford Jr. “It disenfranchises those of a lower socio-economic status."

Ford hopes voters get rid of instant runoff voting.

"When you look at all the data, since 2008, you've got several cities that are having buyer's remorse over using Instant Runoff Voting,” Ford said.

Ford's busy educating voters at town hall meetings, and Mulroy's doing the same.

"We're going to do everything we can to get the word out between now and November 6,” Mulroy said.

"People changed their mind, and I think people have the same right to change their mind again,” Ford said.

The Instant Runoff Voting referendum will appear on the November 6 ballot.

If you want to keep IRV, vote NO on the referendum. If you want to repeal IRV, vote YES on the referendum.

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