Is this really the end of IRV in Burlington? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-
3/4/10 11:40 PM
Is this really the end of IRV in Burlington? Burlington, Vermont - March 3, 2010 Organizers called it a grass roots effort that paid off. The YES on 5 campaign celebrated its victory Tuesday night after voters chose to get rid of Burlington's instant runoff voting system. "We took a vote that everybody said passed by 65 percent and we turned that around after people experienced it and we won by a 4point margin," said Chuck Seleen, of the YES on 5 campaign. That margin was not enough to satisfy Mayor Bob Kiss, PBurlington. Reacting to the news Tuesday night, Kiss said Burlington may need to vote on IRV again. He blamed high voter turnout in Wards 4 and 7, and low voter turnout in the other wards for IRV's defeat. "I think other wards are more modest so if we heat up that debate we might get a better view of Burlingtonians' real view on IRV," Kiss said. However when Burlington first adopted IRV in March 2005 by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent, voter turnout was lower. That day 7,550 people cast their ballots compared to the 7,695 people who voted Tuesday. That year-- like this year-- Wards 4 and 7 made up 42 percent of the total vote with the other five wards combining to make the other 58. "I think we had a hard-fought campaign and we need to accept the results and say let's move forward," said Rep. Jason Lorber, of the 50 Percent Matters campaign that tried to convince voters to keep IRV. The group also argued that going back to the old system-- which requires a mayoral candidate to get just 40 percent of the vote to win-- is weaker than a system that requires 50 percent. "As far as 50 percent I think that's still important and even supporters on their side said 'hey, let's look at this after the election,' so we're going to take them at their word, hope they come to the table and say let's address that," Lorber said. IRV opponents did agree during the debates to take a look at 50 percent and on Wednesday City Councilor Karen Paul, who denounced IRV, said ideally the city does need to up the threshold. Many political observers have said the IRV vote was not just about IRV but a reflection of voters' opinions of Mayor Kiss and his administration's handling of the financial crisis at Burlington Telecom. That might be true, especially if you look at how his Progressive Party fared Tuesday. There were more Progressive candidates running for city council than ever before and only one-- Emma MulvaneyStanak-- won. She was running unopposed though. Combined with Kurt Wright's victory, that means the new makeup of the council is seven Democrats, three Republicans, two Progressives and two independents. Bianca Slota - WCAX News
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The Mayor gets his facts wrong as he discusses the defeat of IRV in Burlington.