Fight for instant runoff voting continues

Updated: Oct. 4, 2019 at 9:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Two Memphis City Council races are headed for a runoff next month.

District One which covers Raleigh out toward Wolfchase pits incumbent Sherman Greer against challenger Rhonda Logan.

Neither got the 50-percent plus one vote needed to win a single district race.

Plus, a crowded field in District 7 representing Downtown, North Memphis and Frayser splintered the vote.

Incumbent Berlin Boyd will face off against Michalyn C.S. Easter-Thomas.

More than 95,000 people voted in this past municipal election and in another six weeks voters in those two districts will be doing it again.

“You’re making us take off work twice. They’re making us rearrange our medical appointments twice. They’re making us find reliable childcare twice,” said Carlos Ochoa with “Save Instant Runoff Voting”.

Last November, nearly 63-percent of Memphians reaffirmed their support for instant runoff voting, which was first approved in 2008, although it has never been implemented.

Ochoa says Instant Run-off Voting would have saved voters an extra trip to the polls.

For instance, in the District 1 race, where no one got more than 50-percent of the vote, forcing a runoff. Let’s say if your number one choice didn’t make the top 2 -- your number 2 choice would become your number 1 choice, keeping you from having to return to the polls.

IRV would also save the city some cash.

A Shelby County Election Commission spokesperson says the November runoff election will cost them upwards of $225,000.

“And so this isn't to discourage anyone, but it kind of demonstrates how flawed our current election system is,” said Ochoa.

Earlier this year Tennessee Elections Coordinator Mark Goins ruled that IRV can’t be legally implemented under state law and questions remains whether it complies with the Memphis City charter.

“But the fact is that ranked choice voting is implemented in 12 cities across the United States,” said Ochoa.

Ochoa says they’re gearing up for a fight. There will be an administrative hearing in December with Goins to decide if ranked voting can be implemented in Memphis. However, if Goins rules against IRV, Ochoa says they will continue the fight in chancery court.

The runoff election is Nov. 14.

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