Voters Give a 'Kiss' to Instant Run-off Voting in Burlington, Vermont

Voters Give a 'Kiss' to Instant Run-off Voting in Burlington, Vermont

Planning Commissioners Journal

Bob Kiss, newly elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont -- the state's largest city -- is the first U.S. mayor ever elected by "instant run-off" voting ("IRV").

IRV allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. With five candidates running in the Burlington race, voters indicated on their ballot (if they chose to) their choices in rank order. IRV ensures that the winning candidate has more than 50% of the final vote, avoiding the need for a costly separate run-off election. (In previous Burlington elections, a separate run-off election was required if the first place candidate did not receive more than 40% of the vote).

In the "first round" of Tuesday's voting, Kiss led with 39% of the vote, followed by candidate Hinda Miller with 31%. The instant run-off then kicked in, and computer software quickly distributed the trailing candidates' second choice votes to the two front runners. The final result: Kiss received 54% of the total vote, to Miller's 46%.

Burlington election officials reported that the instant run-off voting went smoothly. The City had put considerable effort into preparing a well-designed, easy-to-understand ballot, and providing assistance at all voting places for voters with questions on how the new IRV voting system works.

For news on the Burlington election:
-- (Mar 8, 9)

For more on Instant Run-off Voting:
-- City of Burlington:
-- contact Assistant Burlington City Clerk, Jo LaMarche: [email protected]
-- Fair Vote America:

Kiss & the Planning Commissioners Journal:

While not a professional planner, Bob Kiss has worked on several projects for the Planning Comm'rs Journal, including our "Snapshot" issue (highlighting key planning issues faced by communities across the country) and our recent "Bright Ideas" issue. For details, go to: and

Kiss has served three terms in the Vermont House of Representatives. This past session he was lead sponsor of a bill to develop statewide outdoor lighting guidelines. The bill has passed the House and is now before the State Senate. Its goal is to promote energy conservation, while reducing "light pollution" and "light trespass." For details, go to: -- search for H.028.

Related Link:

For more information contact:

Wayne Senville
Planning Commissioners Journal
P.O. Box 4295
VT 05406

Phone: 802-864-9083
Email: [email protected]

Posted March 9, 2006

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