Fort Collins to consider instant runoff voting
FORT COLLINS - Voters in Fort Collins' next municipal election may get to change the way future ballots are counted.
The city clerk Wednesday certified at least 2,517 valid signatures on a petition asking that an initiative to allow ranked voting be placed on the April 5 ballot. Also known as instant runoff voting, the method allows voters to indicate their preference for candidates in order - first, second, third - in any race including at least three contenders.
In instant runoff voting, if no candidate wins a clear majority, ballots are recounted in rounds simulating a series of runoffs. Each ballot is counted as a vote for the candidate ranked highest by the elector, and the candidate with the smallest number of votes is eliminated.
Counting continues until only two candidates remain or until one has more votes than the combined vote total of all other candidates. The Fort Collins initiative would apply to all races for mayor and council seats with more than two people running.
"Ranked voting allows voters to express fuller preferences by rank-ordering candidates, is more likely to produce a majority winner, mitigates the 'spoiler' effect, and creates incentives for greater participation in elections and for positive campaigning," according to the petition that was circulated by about 50 volunteers beginning in September.
Backers originally submitted 2,681 signatures by the Nov. 8 deadline, but about 30 percent were disqualified. Organizer Eric Fried told the Business Report Daily that another 1,320 signatures were turned in on Nov. 24, for a total of more than 4,000.
The initiative goes before city council for consideration on Tuesday, Dec. 7. Council could either pick up the language of the citizen's initiative or refer their own version to the April ballot. If voters approve the amendment to the city code needed to allow the change, instant runoff voting would begin with the next regular election in 2013, according to Rita Harris of the city clerk's office.
Other countries and U.S. cities already use a ranked voting system. The method has been allowed in Colorado since 2008, when Aspen used it. However, voters there rejected the system in last month's general election. Telluride's first ranked voting election is set for next year.
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