Making Democracy Work

Member Events

Consensus Meetings in February on Voting Methods

In February 2017 all LWVBC members are urged to participate in discussions of our Voting Methods study and a series of consensus questions. More information will be forthcoming here.
Attend either of these two meetings:

  • Monday afternoon, February 27th, 2017, 2:30-4:15 pm at Frasier Meadows Manor, 350 Ponca Place, Boulder (4th floor assembly room).

  • Thursday evening, March 2nd, 2017, 6:30-8:00 pm at Front Range Community College (Classroom Bldg C1482) in Longmont

Read the consensus questions here.
See the sample ballots here.
Read the Voting Methods Study Packet here (PDF, 38 p.).

Background: Our current plurality voting method works well when there are only two candidates for one position. However, when there are more candidates, plurality voting limits the voice of the voter.

There are two main categories of more expressive voting methods:

  • ranking (such as instant-runoff voting), where voters get to name their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd (and sometimes more) candidate choices; and
  • rating (such as approval and score voting), where voters get to score all the candidates with a whole number within a certain range specified on the ballot. For approval voting the range is binary (1 for approve and 0 for disapprove) while for score voting the range consists of more options.

How votes are tallied in these different methods isn't necessarily a concern of the casual voter but is of great interest to candidates and interested citizens. Ideally, the outcome of an election clearly reveals the expressed preference of the voters.

No voting method is perfect. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, except for the absence of a voting method (aka a dictatorship), plurality is probably the simplest method to understand and implement.

Which criteria do you think are most important?
At our consensus meetings, we'll discuss the impact of voting methods on

1) tactical vs honest voting,
2) improving the election experience and voter turnout, and
3) ease of implementation and acceptance by voters.
We will drill down into specific criteria within each of the three broad categories.
Additionally, some voting methods are designed to be used in single-winner elections, others in multi-winner elections.
Should the LWVBC campaign for integrity between a voting method's intended use and its actual application?
Help us decide at the consensus meetings.

For further background, we hope that you will also be able to attend the earlier More Choices for Voters educational events on February 2nd and 21st.
Our February 2nd speaker, Rob Richie, represents Fair Vote which is the primary organizational proponent of instant-runoff voting (IRV) for single-winner elections and its multi-winner version called single-transferable vote (STV).
(Did you know? STV was used to elect the Boulder City Council from 1917 to 1947.)
On Feb 21st, State Representative Jonathan Singer, a sponsor of approval voting bills, plans to join us along with Neal McBurnett, a board member of the Center for Election Science; the Center wants us all to make smarter collective decisions and favors approval voting, the method currently used in CU-Boulder's student government elections.

Our state's history is replete with examples of alternative voting methods. In addition to the CU-Boulder and Boulder City Council examples above, Bucklin voting (aka the Grand Junction method) was used in many jurisdictions in the early 20th century. Basalt and Telluride currently use IRV. Aspen tried IRV in 2009 and repealed it in 2010. In 2011 Fort Collins voters rejected a proposal to adopt IRV. In 2016 an Approval Voting Party ran a presidential candidate in Colorado.

We Help Register Voters

Later in 2017, League members' attention will again focus on Voter Registration Drive (VRD) efforts.

Watch this space for news on how to participate.

The Colorado Secretary of State will be posting VRD information here.