Instant Runoff Voting A Pilot Program Hendersonville

Hendersonville City Council Election
November 6, 2007
Instant Runoff
A Pilot Program
How Did Instant Runoff Voting
Work In Hendersonville?
Instant Runoff Voting combined the Primary and
General Election days into one election. Voters
indicated their top choices for the two available
seats, then in a second step, they
ranked the remaining candidates
in order of preference.
Hendersonville City Council
IRV Ballot Page 1 (DRAFT)
Hendersonville City Council
IRV Ballot Page 2 (DRAFT)
How Instant Runoff
Voting Tabulation Works?
STEP ONE: First Round of Counting
Voters select their choices for the two City Council
seats just as they have done in previous elections.
They are allowed to vote for as many as two
candidates for the two at-large positions. Following
the election, the voters’ choices are tallied. If a
candidate(s) gets enough votes to win, then they are
declared the winner and no further counting is
How Instant Runoff
Voting Tabulation Works?
STEP TWO: Second Round of Counting
If one or both seats lack a candidate with enough
votes to reach the majority threshold, the top
candidates move into the instant runoff round. The
winners are then determined by adding their first
round totals to any alternate votes they receive in the
second round. The candidate(s) with a majority of the
votes after the two rounds of counting wins.
Challenges Faced In Conducting
Hendersonville IRV
• Time constraint: City Council approved on Aug. 9th,
CBE approval on Aug. 15th
• “Vote for Two” versus conventional
IRV method of “Vote for One”
• DRE/IVO machines: 1) IRV most commonly
conducted through paper ballots; 2) voters still learning
• Controversial Land Transfer Tax issue on countywide
ballot – overshadowed council race
Challenges Faced In Conducting
Hendersonville IRV (cont.)
• Required targeted/city only voter education
• Separate poll worker education
• Candidate education: specifically regarding
tabulation – voting is easy; tabulation is the hard part
• Large elderly population
• Limited media outlets
What Was Involved?
• AUGUST 15th: IRV approved by CBE
• ON-GOING: Demonstration machine at CBE
Festival Demonstration with League of
Women Voters
• MID-SEPTEMBER: Information
posted on city website
• MID-SEPTEMBER: Organized & publicized upcoming
demonstrations and educational sessions
• LATE SEPTEMBER: League of Women Voters planning
What Was Involved? (cont.)
• OCTOBER: Informational
flyer/sample ballot mailed in every
city water/utility bill
• OCTOBER: Presentations to 3
residential associations, candidate
forum, & afternoon at city hall lobby
(TV coverage)
• MID-OCTOBER: Developed exit poll with NCSU professor
• LATE OCTOBER: Poll worker education, exit poll &
volunteer training
• ELECTION DAY: Voter assistance, exit poll
What Helped Make Hendersonville
IRV Successful?
• Strong City support
• Backed by candidates
• Positive press: local newspaper editorial
“a stroke of common sense”
• No other primaries or elections leading up to November
• Support from State Board
Pilot vs. Old Method
• One election vs. two
• Cost savings to City
• Candidates save time and money in
• Cost savings to County – prepare
once; limited cost in education (only
$442 material costs)
• One day of voting ensured higher voter turnout
• BONUS: demos were another opportunity to educate
voters on iVotronic/DRE voting machines
Things To Keep In Mind
• Instant may not be INSTANT… provisionals, curbsides,
etc., have to be considered and close races may delay the
• Strength of candidate field can make a
big difference
• Hendersonville had no instant
runoff in the end – there were
two clear winners in the first
round and additional rounds of
counting were not needed
Exit Poll Findings
• Developed by Dr. Michael Cobb, Assistant Professor of
Political Science, NC State University
• 9 out of 10 voters said the ballot was at least “somewhat
easy to understand” and 3 out of 5 said it was “very easy” to
• 71% of voters said they preferred instant
run-off voting
• Education efforts worked: 65% knew they
would be asked to rank their preferences
before coming to vote that day
Henderson County Board of Elections
(828) 697-4970
Tom Wilson, Chairman
Betty Gash, Secretary
Joseph Abrell, Member
Beverly Cunningham, Director