Also see: [Agenda Article] . [1974/75 Charter Language] . [Center for Voting and Democracy]
History of Preferential Voting in Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor News Articles
November, 1974: Voters approve preference voting for Mayor Wording: "Shall the City Charter be amended to provide that the Mayor shall be elected by a majority of voters, by permitting each voter to designate a first preference and subsequent preferences; so that if no candidate receives a majority of first preferences, then the candidate with the fewest such votes is eliminated and second preferences of the voters for that candidate are counted instead, the process being repeated until one candidate receives a majority of valid votes?" Won the approval of about 52% of voters who turned out. Voting mostly along partisan lines (Democrats for/Republicans against) (1,500 vote margin). PV would apply only to mayor's race, not council races. Initiative had been put on the ballot by a Human Rights Party petition drive. HRP had two council members at the time. Republican mayor James Stephenson up for reelection in April 1975. In previous election he had won with only 47% of the vote. The GOP won 3 council seats and the mayor's office in the past three elections with plurality approval, thanks to liberal-radical vote splitting. Endorsed by Democratic Party, but not unanimously. Came only after Democrats failed to collect enough signatures to put runoff elections for mayor and council on the ballot. Many Democrats prefer run-off elections for two top vote-getters if no one wins a majority. Democrats planning to revise city charter after the election to include run-off elections. Michigan Attorney General declared the PV proposal legal, but questioned some of the language as ambiguous and contradictory. -- legality would depend on method of administration (vague). Michigan's home rule act specifically allows this system of voting. Governor must review charter amendments, but Governor's decision carries no weight. Citizen-initiated amendments are not subject to a Governor's veto. Letter to the Editor objections: - Republicans see it as a power grab. - Stable, 2-party system is necessary for good government. - Encourgages small parties. - Gives minority candidate voters two votes. - To whom would a mayor be responsible. - Why weren't council races included? HRP worried of losing due to second preference votes? - Ann Arbor News: We don't know how it will work, but we don't think "it has enough going for it." PV hard to understand. Will turn voters off from voting. City voting machines can't handle new system. Has been tried and dropped in many MI communities. Letter to the Editor support: - Allows people to express all their choices. - Mayor should have at least some support from the majority of people. - A vote for HRP is no longer a wasted vote. - Same "two vote privilege" is extended to supporters of losing candidates in primaries or where there are run-off elections. Public hearing and city-wide mailing in March 1975 to educate voters on how system will work. April 1975: Mayoral election using preference voting. Post-election: - Vote counting very difficult. Delay in certification. - Democratic, first black mayor wins thanks to second choice votes. - Democrats 40%, Republicans 49%, HRP 11%. Wheeler (Dem) won by 121 votes. - Council votes to keep Republican mayor until votes certified. - Took until April 30, 1975. - Study -- paper ballots and ill-prepared election workers caused confusion. Sept 1975: Republicans begin a petition drive to repeal PV. 90 days to obtain enough signatures. Nov 1975 PV system ruled constitutional. -- does not violate one person one vote, does not give diferent weight to voters. PV provides two elections in one (run-off). Ann Arbor News: PV is 1) cunning political device; 2) a wasteful, cumberson experiment; 3) an unworthy substitute for straight up and down system. April 1976: 62% of voters voted to repeal PV. Very low voter turnout (1/4 - 1/3 of voters). One of the only elections where more Republicans than Democrats went to the polls. -- Maybe specifically to kill this proposal.
Green Party of Michigan: www.migreens.org
Last Updated on 8/26/2001
by Craig Harvey firstname.lastname@example.org