The No Bad Ballots Committee wants to thwart the adoption of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) in St. Paul. The newly formed advocacy group argues that the system will confuse voters and result in the disenfranchisement of immigrants and the elderly.
St. Paul voters will decide next month whether to adopt IRV, which gives voters the opportunity to rank candidates in order of preference. Minneapolis will be utilizing such a system, also known as ranked-choice voting, for the first time this year.
“There’s been no opposition anywhere in the country,” says Chuck Repke, co-chair of the No Bad Ballots Committee. “We just finally decided we’ll step up and do it.”
Supporters of Instant Runoff Voting, most notably FairVote Minnesota, argue that it encourages greater participation in the democratic process and allows voters to back their favored candidate without having to worry about a spoiler affect. They also believe that it encourages less negative campaigning.
But Repke, who helped defeat a resolution backing instant-runoff voting at St. Paul’s DFL party convention in March, believes that champions of the novel voting method have mislead the public about its merits.
“They claim that instant-runoff voting will do everything but clean my laundry for me,” he says. “What these people get away with is amazing.”
Repke points to the experience of Pierce County, Wash., as evidence that ranked-choice voting will prove a debacle. Last year the county spent $1.7 million to implement IRV after voters passed a resolution adopting the new system. But a survey of voters indicated that roughly two thirds didn’t like the new system. There is now a measure on the ballot to do away with the voting method.
The No Bad Ballots Committee will spend the next month attending political events and distributing literature in hopes of preventing a similar experience in St. Paul.
“I’ve spent 38 years trying to get people to vote in this town,” says Repke. “I’m sure as hell not going to give up and turn it over to some system that will confuse and disenfranchise voters.”