| Marissa Payne | The Gazette |
CEDAR RAPIDS — The citizen panel reviewing Cedar Rapids’ governing document voted Thursday to recommend changes that would broaden ethics language for top officials and also keep the door open for ranked choice voting in the future.
A hot-button issue the commission took up was how to address citizen interest in exploring ranked choice voting in place of the current runoff system, where a runoff election is held after the general election if candidates fail to receive at least 50 percent plus one of the vote.
Some citizens pressed the commission and city officials in Iowa’s second-largest city to take bold action…
The panel on June 22 opted to recommend trigger language that would direct the council to appoint a future panel to study whether to adopt ranked choice voting should Iowa lawmakers ever move to allow it.
Under the recommended language, the city would commit to convening a “Limited Charter Review Commission” within six months if the Iowa Legislature authorizes ranked choice voting for use in municipal elections. The group could recommend amendments to the charter for the City Council’s consideration.
That group’s sole purpose would be to explore using instant runoff voting in single-winner elections, such as the mayor and district council races, and single-transferrable voting for multiseat elections such as the at-large council seats.
Better Ballot Iowa, a nonprofit, and some citizens pressed the commission and city officials in Iowa’s second-largest city to take bold action and lobby Iowa lawmakers to authorize ranked choice voting. There was some debate about recommending the council implement ranked choice voting immediately.
“The countervailing view, which ultimately prevailed, was that moving forward with the adoption and implementation of ranked choice voting at this time could generate significant litigation, initiated either by the state of Iowa in some capacity or by a losing candidate, thereby creating a significant degree of uncertainty in the outcome of the initial elections under the new form of voting,” Streit wrote in the report’s cover letter.
Though the commission decided it did not have the time or resources to dedicate to study moving to ranked choice voting, it felt the idea warranted a full discussion, Streit said.