Rev. Jesse Jackson urges people to repeal instant runoff voting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson is now picking a side in the controversy taking place at the polls in Memphis.

In a video posted on Facebook, Jackson urges Memphis voters to repeal instant runoff voting by checking yes on their ballot.

Essentially, instant run-off voting allows voters to rank their first, second and third choices to avoid a run-off election.

"Instant runoff has not worked for other cities, and it won't work in a majority African-American city like Memphis. It won't save money, but cause confusion and cost taxpayers more," Jackson said.

Voters approved instant run-off voting a decade ago, but it was never implemented.

In December, the City Council added a question to the ballot in hopes of getting rid of it.

"There are lot of things that can go wrong with instant run-off voting. It's been proven in other cities and municipalities that have instant run-off voting in place," said Council Chairman Berlin Boyd.

Boyd supports Rev. Jackson's opinion. While others, like former council member Myron Lowery, don't.

"Reverend Jackson was reading from a script that somebody put in front of him. He's not familiar with the local issues. In the past, he as well as his son have supported instant run-off voting," Lowery said.

Instant run-off voting, as well as two other referendums on the ballot dealing with term limits and majority votes, are gaining national attention.

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence encouraged people to vote no as well as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Save IRV sent a statement saying, "Rev. Jackson has repeatedly supported IRV in the past. This time, he was clearly doing a personal favor for his friend Bishop Williamson, who is close to Councilwoman Swearengen. We know this because his message is riddled with factual errors showing he didn’t research this as his own statement. For example, no referendum concerns “special elections.” And the claim that IRV would cost more has been repeatedly and recently debunked, including last Wednesday by the Election Commission in testimony before the County Commission. In fact, IRV has been certified as saving $250,000 per year."

It doesn't look like the controversy will calm down any time soon. Election day is next week.

"To me, Reverend Jackson brings credibility. Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t. She’s just an A-list actress supposedly. When you have real individuals who understand real problem, and is speaking out in favor of something like Reverend Jackson is doing that proves we are on the right track," said Boyd.