116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
I am a 27-year-old learning about voting, discouraged by the various reasons so many people don't vote and searching to learn from places that have high voter participation and high voter satisfaction.
In my searching, I have learned that instant runoff elections/ranked choice voting has increased voter participation and voter satisfaction in places it is used, and provides benefits such as the following:
Increases accountability of our elected leaders.
Prevents costly non-instant runoff elections.
Encourages candidates to focus on issues instead of uncivil attacks on their opponents.
Instant runoff elections are better for voters.
I asked the city Charter Review Committee to consider a recommendation to write the following words into the charter, "Instant Runoff Elections shall be held as soon as allowed by Iowa law."
Doing that would show the state of Iowa that Iowans want the freedom to vote using ranked choice voting, and it would encourage the state to make it legal. As soon as it's legal, Cedar Rapids can benefit right away without having to wait so long for the next charter review in five to 10 years. It's better to be proactive.
To clarify about the different terms, instant runoff elections can include both ranked choice voting and single transferable vote.
Ranked choice voting is the method of instant runoff election used for a single winner race such as mayor.
Single transferable vote is the method of Instant runoff election used for multi-winner races such as the at-large city council seats.
But another form of election, plurality voting, would be worse for Voters
I asked the charter commission to not adopt plurality voting, even though that could eliminate the cost of non-instant runoff elections. It allows a candidate to win with less than 50 percent of the vote — and that is not enough to hold elected leaders accountable to a diverse city of people.
Accountability to voters is more important than trying to eliminate the cost of runoff elections. Fortunately, ranked choice voting does both. As soon as the Iowa Legislature allows instant runoff elections and ranked choice voting, and Cedar Rapids adopts it, that will eliminate the cost of non-instant runoff elections.
Darrow Center lives in Cedar Rapids.