Two bills were introduced in this year’s legislative session that would have allowed municipalities in Georgia to pass an ordinance authorizing Instant Runoff Voting in their elections. Wording in the bills required cities to enact any such ordinance at least 180 days prior to the election in which IRV is to be used. The Secretary of State and the State Election Board would be responsible for establishing rules for the implementation of Instant Runoff Voting in the municipalities.

In 2021, there were 28 municipal runoff elections in Georgia. Benefits of the passing of this legislation for city elections include cost savings of 1-2% of annualized city budgets, increased turnout compared to normal run off turnout, more civility in competitive campaigns for office, and more local control by the municipalities.

House Bill 1085 passed successfully out of Committee but never made it to the House floor for a vote. A companion bill, SB 527, was introduced in the Georgia Senate, but did not get a committee hearing. SB 527 was identical to HB 1085 with the additional provision that Georgia’s Consolidated City/County governments could also opt for IRV in their elections. Both bills were introduced by Republicans but had Democratic co-sponsors as well.

Scot Turner, whose organization Eternal Vigilance mounted the effort that led to the IRV legislation, said  “It was clear that the Lieutenant Governor was gun shy about moving any election bill this session. That made it difficult for us to gain final passage. We made great strides, however, and have built momentum heading into to 2023. Our efforts will now shift into a continuing education campaign with legislators and influencers as we gear up for next year.”

Better Ballot Georgia will be complementing these efforts through our continued focus on increasing voter awareness and support as well as working with local governments to educate and promote IRV at the local level.