Friday, May 3, 2019

Rank Choice Voting faces Election Commisison discussion today. The Charter Revision Commssion voted against it. Status in doubt.

The Election Commission is today discussing Rank Choice Voting.  I am unsure if the Commission is voting on it or simply "discussion" it. Councilman Rosenberg is the sponsor of this proposal. I assume he has met with Election Commission staff and talked to election commissioners and explained the concept. I would assume he will be at today's meeting.  The position of the Election Commission will have an influence on the Metro Council. 

The Charter Revision Commission met on April 12th and vote 3 to 2 against recommendation. For something like this to pass, it has to have the buy-in from a lot of people.  In this particular case, not only does if have to jump a bunch of hurdles to be adopted but then the public must approve it in a public referendum. Government changes very slowly, which can be both bad and good.  It takes forever for government to kill a no longer needed program or adopt cost saving measures.  On the other hand, this cumbersome process and inertia keeps government from jumping on the latest fad or responding to the passions of the moment.  

On Tuesday April 16th the measure received exactly 27 votes on a resolution before the Council. That is the minimum required to be considered as part of a group of amendments the council will vote on to place on the ballot for the August 1 general election. Before it goes to the ballot however, this proposal, called Amendment A, would  have to be approved again, along with the other considered amendments, sand receive another 27 favorable vote minimum. This vote is scheduled for May 7. 

Even it this passes the Council and is approved in referendum by the public, that does not necessarily mean it becomes law. Tennessee Elections Coordinator Mark Goins has said state law doesn’t allow ranked-choice voting. I don't see much point in passing something inconsistent with State law. However, I approve of the concept.  If I was serving in the Council I would vote for this if I believed Goins opinion was in error, however if I was convinced that it did in fact violate state law I would vote against it. I do not think the Council should be putting before the public questions that would adopt policies contrary to law. If it does violate state law, then efforts should be made to change state law before advancing the policy at the local level.

The way rank choice voting would work is like this:  When you go to vote, if voting for mayor for instance, you would select your first choice, then select a second choice if the first choice is not elected, then a third choice. One could rank all of them if one wanted. If no one receives a majority, the candidate with the lowest votes would be eliminated and the second choice of those who voted for the candidate eliminated, would have their second choice votes distributed and added to the tally of the remaining candidates. If this gave a candidate a majority, that would be the winner.  If not, then again the candidate with the lowest vote total would be eliminated and the second choice of those voters would have their second choice votes allocated, until a candidate had a majority.  This would eliminate the need for a runoff election.

To read the resolution that contains Amendment one, follow this link
To read the legal analysis of the Council staff attorney, follow this link.

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