We know that RCV/IRV has the potential to increase voter participation. The more voters who help decide who gets on the ballot and who gets elected, the more likely we are to get elected officials who will seek to implement policy that reflects the interests of all our citizens. In other words, the more we can get informed voters to reflect their choices, the better governance we will get.
By eliminating second round runoffs in races with three or more candidates, IRV can capture the preferences of voters in round one, and avoid the inevitable drop-off in participation in our runoff elections. Many of Georgia’s cities use plurality voting, in which the first place finisher can be declared the winner, even though they capture only 30% of the vote. IRV in these cases would provide a true picture of which candidate reflects the will of the electorate.
What we have to admit, is that the biggest reason that we have a small percentage of our citizens determining the outcome of our elections is the disgraceful number of registered voters who don’t bother to come to the polls at all.
A recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Georgia is doing better in getting its voters to the polls. In the November 2022 midterm elections, ranking 13th in the nation, and first among Southern states. 51.9% of Georgia’s registered voters, 3.96 million of us, came to the polls last November. It is sad that we think of half the people voting as a good report, but for a mid-term election, it was considered a good turnout, especially compared to our neighbors: Alabama – 37.2%, South Carolina – 42.8% and Tennessee – dead last at 31%
We do elect our Governor in the off year, and we did have a contentious Senate race in 2022, which probably gave us a boost in turnout. We can only speculate as to whether the changes implemented in the infamous SB 202 had an impact on voter turnout. Interestingly, more Georgians voted in 2022 than did in 2020, but the percentage was lower due to a growth in the registered voter rolls.
If you want to read more about 2022 turnout across the country go the US Elections Project site at https://www.electproject.org/2022g
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