Urbana rejects runoff voting referendum

By Eric Heisig

The people of Cunningham township voted against placing a referendum on the November ballot regarding instant runoff voting in Urbana Monday night.

The advisory referendum, if passed, would have asked voters if they thought the Urbana City Council should place a binding referendum on the ballot to change the voting method.

During the meeting, many citizens came forward on both sides of the issue.

“How anti-democratic it would be for the small group of us here tonight to deny Urbana citizens at large that chance to vote,” said Urbana resident Gary Storm, arguing that the citizens present only represented a small percentage of Urbana’s population.

Still, some on the other side said that the system, which requires voters to list candidates in order of preference, is too confusing for many voters.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

“It’s frustrating to know if you actually did it right,” said resident Carla Tucker.

Ward 1 Council member Charlie Smyth said other cities who have used this type of voting have indicated it can be confusing with their exit polls.

“It is like Florida and the butterfly ballot,” Smyth said. “If it weren’t for that, Al Gore would have been president, and probably still be president today.”

This is not the first time that instant runoff voting has been voted down at town meeting. It was voted down at the annual town meeting in April as well.

Still, the 43-98 vote has not deterred those who are in favor of instant runoff voting, and Urbana resident Wayne Johnson said the next step for them is to collect signatures on a petition to put it on the ballot.

“I think this indicates how much education is necessary, to show what is meant by grass roots participatory democracy,” Johnson said.