Dec 052010
Authors: Justin Rampy

Come the end of April, Fort Collins voters could pass in a new voting system that could change how candidates and constituents treat elections.

The option for ranked voting –– or Instant Runoff Voting –– has been petitioned as an initiative onto the April mayoral election ballot and will amend the city code to allow ranked voting in Fort Collins.

The system would let voters rank their candidates from their top to last choices. If a candidate with an absolute majority of votes, 50 percent plus one, isn’t found through the first round of voting, the last candidate gets dropped from the ballot and those voters would have their second choice count instead of their first choice.

This system would replace the current plurality system, which only requires a candidate to receive a relative majority –– receiving the most votes relative to other candidates.

Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, fought for a bill in the State House that would allow cities to change how they run their own elections.

According to Seth Anthony, a member of “Fort Collins Ranked Voting,” a grassroots organization created to raise support for this initiative, if this bill had not been passed in the state legislature, movements for ranked voting in Colorado would not be possible.

Anthony is assured that many voters in Fort Collins will be informed when voting on the initiative in April.

“When gathering signatures for a petition you end up talking to five-or-10 times as many people as actually sign the petition,” he said. The volunteer organization gathered more than 4,000 signatures, of which 2,517 had to be confirmed by the city to place the initiative on the April ballot.

Many of the more than 4,000 signatures were deemed invalid by the city, as some of the signatures had given incorrect, incomplete or outdated information. This put the petition 736 signatures short getting on the ballot in its first effort to place the initiative on next year’s ballot.

However, Fort Collins Ranked Voting was able to make up the difference before the extended deadline of Nov. 24.

“If you want to change how elections are conducted, that should come from the people,” Anthony said.

This is the philosophy behind the ranked voting movement that has spread to other cities like San Francisco, Calif., Minneapolis, Minn., Memphis, Tenn., Aspen and Telluride that have passed ranked voting measures.

If the initiative passes, the 2013 elections will see the change. This gives the city plenty of time to prepare ranked ballots and educate the populace of how to vote in a ranked election.

Anthony said the duty of educating the people of Fort Collins will also fall onto Fort Collins Ranked Voting and its volunteers. He wants to ensure their efforts of passing the bill translate into efforts of education; rather than just getting what they want and leaving the rest to the city.

Staff writer Justin Rampy can be reached at

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