Redic ‘wins’ ranked-choice vote mock ‘election’
By Guy Page
An online poll conducted by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) this month has Sen. Becca Balint far ahead of Lt. Gov. Molly Gray in the race for the Democratic nomination for Vermont’s sole seat in Congress, and Christina Nolan leading other GOP candidates for U.S. Senate by a wide margin.
Both races will be decided in the August 9 primary.
The results may be a reflection of the political views of the pro-VPIRG “electorate” who participated in what VPIRG billed as its “first ever Mock Ranked Choice Voting Vermont Primary Election.” The liberal/progressive advocacy organization is a strong supporter of legislation pushing ranked choice (i.e. “instant run-off”) voting, a vote-counting process that favors third-party candidates.
In an RCV election, if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the first choices, they are declared the winner, VPIRG explained. If not, the candidate with the fewest first choices is eliminated, and the voters who ranked that candidate first have their second choice counted when the ballots are tabulated again. This process continues until a candidate emerges with majority support.
In the VPIRG poll, Balint received 59% and Molly Gray 29%, with two other candidates in single digits. These results likely reflect Balint’s strength among VPIRG and ranked-choice voting supporters.
In the Republican race for U.S. Senate, former U.S. prosecutor Christina Nolan held a 67% lead over Gerald Malloy (20%) and Myers Mermel (14%). The potential bias of these results is even more pronounced in Republican races, because it is less likely that Republicans – especially conservative Republicans – participated in great numbers in the VPIRG ranked choice voting ‘mock election.’
The ranked-choice voting effect ‘worked’ on behalf of GOP candidate for Congress Ericka Redic. In that race, VPIRG explained, Redic had 39 percent of the votes in the first round, compared to 32 percent for Anya Tynio, and 29 percent for Liam Madden. Under RCV, Liam Madden was eliminated from the race and those who ranked him first had their second-choice votes applied. This then produced a majority winner, with Ericka Bundy Redic getting 54 percent of the second-round vote, compared to Anya Tynio with 46 percent.
In the Democratic primary for Senate, Rep. Peter Welch had 76 percent of the vote to 15 percent for Isaac Evans-Frantz and 9 percent for Niki Thran.
No reliable, professionally-executed public polling for the three races has been publicly released.