Burlington VT repeals Instant Runoff Voting

Instant runoff rejected

By John Briggs, Burlington Free Press 3 March 2010, front page.

Excerpts: Burlington voters narrowly repealed an instant runoff voting system for mayor Tuesday, confirming a pronounced geographic division within the city. The vote in favor of Question No. 5 on the city ballot was 3972 to 3669, with heavy repeal votes in more conservative New North End Wards 4 and 7 that offset majorities to retain IRV in the city's five other wards. The result could have "a pretty significant impact nationwide," anti-IRV activist John Ewing said; or it was a local question that left many voters indifferent – the perspective of City Council President Bill Keogh, D-Ward 5, who said voters were far more interested in Burlington Telecom than in IRV... Only 7641 voters of the 33,218 registered to vote in Burlington showed up at the polls -- a turnout of 23%.

IRV defenders outspend opponents

By John Briggs, Burlington Free Press 17 March 2010 page B1.

Full text: Fifty Percent Matters, the group that fought unsuccessfully to retain the instant-runoff voting system for choosing a mayor in Burlington, outspent Repeal IRV, $14,033 to $9,280. The repeal group won, albeit narrowly, 3,972 to 3,669, by virtue of heavy majorities in the Wards 4 and 7. Fifty Percent Matters had a nearly 2-to-1 edge in Wards 1, 2 and 3 – 1,343 to 741 – but the contest was much closer in Wards 5 and 6 – 1,283 to retain IRV, with 1,022 voting to repeal. The heavy repeal vote in the New North End, 2,209 to 1,043, was decisive. The decision upset Mayor Bob Kiss, who didn't campaign to retain IRV but has twice been elected through the use of the system. Kiss referred to New North Enders as "naysayers" when votes were tallied. The issue had fierce proponents on both sides, but it didn't generate wide interest. The election drew 23 percent of registered voters to the polls. According to the final finance disclosure form filed 10 days after the election, Repeal IRV had total contributions of $9,229.50. Fifty Percent Matters had contributions of $20,425.50. Aside from $2,500 in in-kind contributions from a local Web designer and $150 from a resident, all of the of Fifty Percent Matters contributions over $100 came from outside Burlington. That included $10,000 from the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG); $6,500 from FairVote of Takoma Park, Md.; and $400 from the League of Women Voters, based in Cabot. Repeal IRV raised all but $400 of its contributions locally. Its largest contributions came from Raymond Pecor ($1,000) and Democratic State Sen. Hinda Miller ($750). Miller lost a three-way race for mayor to Kiss in 2006.

Kiss hears criticism at New North End meeting

By John Briggs, Burlington Free Press 16 Feb. 2011 front page.

Excerpts: Kiss said again that some in the New North End have been "demagoguing" the issue of instant-runoff voting, which city residents repealed in March. IRV isn't on the ballot this year, but Decelles said the 50 percent ballot item, put on the ballot by "Democrats voting in a block" and supported by "a few councilors trying to position themselves for the future," is a "direct attempt to bring back IRV." Kiss didn't disagree. "IRV should be restored in the city of Burlington," the mayor said, arguing as he has before that "people by and large over the city were satisfied with IRV." After the March vote, in which a heavy tally against instant-runoff voting in Wards 4 and 7 carried the issue, he called New North Enders "naysayers." But Kiss is supporting the 50 percent change this year: "It makes sense for a mayor to have the support of a majority."

Burlington voters decisively defeat two key proposals backed by Mayor Bob Kiss

By John Briggs, Burlington Free Press 2 March 2011. (Front page? Not sure which page since only read it online.)

Excerpts: Ignoring entreaties from Mayor Bob Kiss, Burlington voters on Tuesday emphatically turned down a proposed city tax increase and a proposal to raise the winning percentage in mayoral elections from 40 to 50 percent... Councilor Kurt Wright, R-Ward 4, a possible candidate for mayor next year, said the results Tuesday amounted to "a tremendous rebuke" for Kiss... On the question to require a 50-percent threshold for successfulmayoral candidates, Wards 4, 6 and 7 voted heavily against the change. Citywide, the question was defeated 3,456 to 2,452 – or 58% to 42%. Last year, votes in Wards 4 and 7 defeated the instant run-off voting system that elected Kiss twice. On Tuesday, Ward 4 voted against the 50-percent measure 997-446, and Ward 7 said "no" 936-362. Opponents of the measure argued it was a backdoor method of returning to IRV. A 50-percent winning requirement, they said, would lead to run-off elections.

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