Support Real Choice at the Polls in Illinois with Instant-Runoff Voting

Target: Senate Majority Leader Clayborne, Senate Minority Leader Radogno, Speaker of the House Madigan, and House Minority Leader Cross

Goal: Institute instant-runoff voting for every statewide election in Illinois to give voters a real voice.

Our current electoral system is outdated and leaves many voters frustrated, feeling like they only have the choice between the lesser of two evils. The two-party system rules and candidates often win with less than a majority of votes. It prevents real freedom of choice at the polls and it needs to be changed. Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a simple way of providing more choice and letting voters express support for the candidate they like most.

IRV works pretty simply. Each voter ranks the candidates in order of their preference. The ballots are counted, and the candidate who earns a majority of first-choice votes wins. If no candidate earns a majority, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated from the race. Voters who selected him/her as their first choice have their votes transferred to their second choice. This process continues until one candidate earns a majority of the vote.

One of the main benefits of IRV is that it lets voters choose their most preferred candidate without “spoiling” the vote. In the current system, a race with two candidates who are ideologically similar and a third who is considerably different discourages voting for one of the two similar candidates, for fear of splitting the vote. All other problems with this election aside, a good example of a split vote is the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida. The two similar candidates were Al Gore and Ralph Nader, and the different candidate was George W. Bush, who won with 48.9% of the vote. Had Nader’s 1.6% been transferred to Gore, who almost certainly would have been the second choice of Nader supporters, Gore would have gone from 48.8% to 50.4% and won the election. In other words, even though a majority of voters preferred Gore to Bush, the current system let Bush win.

By instituting IRV, you enable voters to express their true preference without fear of spoiling the vote and having their least favored choice win. It creates a space for third parties to exist, run candidates, and build support in their communities. Tell your legislators that you are sick and tired of the two-party system, and that you want access to real choices at the polls.


Dear Senate Majority Leader Clayborne, Senate Minority Leader Radogno, Speaker of the House Madigan, and House Minority Leader Cross,

Our current system of elections simply does not work for many voters. The two major political parties dominate elections and voters feel forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.

By instituting instant-runoff voting (IRV) for all statewide elections, we can let voters express their true preferences without worrying about spoiling the election. When we give voters the opportunity to rank candidates in order of preference, we provide fertile ground for new parties to form and gain support in their communities. It will encourage more citizens to become involved in politics because they will feel that they can voice their true sentiments.

As a voter who is tired of the two-party system and wants real freedom of choice at the polls, I strongly urge you to write and pass legislation implementing IRV in all statewide elections.


[Your Name Here]

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