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Instant Runoff Voting and Voter Turnout

Instant Runoff Voting supporters say that "Ranked Choice Voting will increase turnout, and be more inclusive than runoffs. It will save money and more people will participate."  The facts disprove this claim.  In fact, Instant Runoff Voting has been associated with low or decreased voter turnout.  In San Francisco, California, after IRV was implemented, turnout decreased.  In the 2007 mayoral contest, using IRV, there were 100,000 fewer voters than in 2003, when a traditional one-to-one runoff election was held. Embarrassingly low turnout has also been noted in Takoma Park Maryland, home of Fair Vote Director Rob Richie. 


2003 San Francisco Mayoral Contest - Traditional Runoff Election

PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 562). . . . . 562 (100%)
REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL . . . . . 466,127
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . . .  253,872
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . . . 54.46
2007 San Francisco Mayoral Contest - Instant Runoff Voting Election:
PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 580). . . . . 580 (100%)
REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL . . . . . 419,598
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . . . 149,424
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL CARD 1 . . . . 149,424
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL CARD 2 . . . . 150,098
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . . .  35.61
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL CARD 1 . . . . 35.61
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL CARD 2 . . . . 35.77
That's a tiny 35% of voters turning out - 100,000 fewer in 2007 than in the mayoral runoff in 2003.

Lets compare the results for the Mayoral Contest in 2007, with Newsome verses "progressive" Mecke to the 2003 Mayoral Contest between Newsom and Gonzalez (Green):

GAVIN NEWSOM . . . . . . . . . 105,596   73.66 
QUINTIN MECKE . . . . . . . . . .  9,076    6.33

2003 Results
GAVIN NEWSOM. . . . . . . . . . 133,546 52.81
MATT GONZALEZ . . . . . . . . . 119,329 47.19 

Mayor Newsom got fewer votes in 2007 than his Green Party opponent Matt Gonzalez did in 2003.

In 2003, then-Supervisor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, ran in a large field of challengers, including Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez, Supervisor Tom Ammiano, former Supervisor Angela Alioto, city Treasurer Susan Leal, and former Police Chief Tony Ribera. Newsom and Gonzalez took first and second place, respectively, but neither won a majority, so the two advanced to a runoff election.
Newsom ran as a moderate against leftist/progressive Gonzalez, a member of the Green Party. The election was close, and the local Republican Party claimed to have delivered the margin of victory for the mayor  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_mayoral_election,_2007

There was a drop in voters, drop in turnout in 2007:

Big drop in S.F. voters may lead to record-low election turnout John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/05/07 ...The number of registered voters in the city has fallen by more than 9 percent since the 2003 election. ..Four years ago, just before the mayoral election that pitted then-Supervisor Gavin Newsom against then-Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, there were 461,255 registered voters in San Francisco. By Oct. 22, the final registration day for Tuesday's election, that number had fallen to 418,726.

Takoma Park Maryland Home of Fair Vote Director and notorious as "The Activist City that didn't vote." See February 11, 2009 Does Instant Runoff Voting Cause Lower Voter Turnout? Takoma Park Marland. home of Fair Vote Director Rob Richie.  The activist city that didn't vote  Will there ever be enough candidates in a Takoma Park election trigger Instant Run-off Voting? by Tamra Tomlinson 12/07/2007