Five-year-olds get it

Posted: Thursday, August 08, 2002

It is amazing that an organization dedicated to informed voting such as the League of Women Voters should come out against a sensible voting reform like instant runoff voting (Ballot Measure 1 on the primary ballot Aug. 27). In all fairness, it appears that only the Alaskan League is against IRV. In other states the League of Women Voters has been firmly in support of the issue, as well they should.

Instant runoff voting is so easy to understand that 5-year-olds have successfully used the concept. Scenario: Go into an ice cream store.

"What flavor would you like?" asks the counterman.

"I'd like rocky road," you reply.

"Sorry, we're out of that."

"OK, then I'll have vanilla."

That, in essence, is instant runoff voting. If on the first count one candidate receives a majority of the vote, the race is completed. End of story. If however, no one candidate has a majority then the votes of the least candidate are re-examined and their, and only their, second choices are added to the tally. This continues, until someone has a majority.

Gone are the candidates who win with only a fraction of the total vote - who actually have more people who dislike the person than who voted for them.

The present system does not result in representative democracy. As for the "one person, one vote" argument, the letter writer conveniently omits the fact that the courts have upheld instant runoff voting when its fairness was challenged.

The system is broken. Witness the dismal voter turnouts against which the league is constantly railing. Many races are uncontested because people are just not motivated to run. Instant Runoff voting would allow a person to vote both his conscience and the lesser of two evils. As more people vote for the candidate who expresses their true political philosophy, the larger parties will be revitalized. They will have to compete for the vote - and competition is healthy. Many people don't vote because they rightly feel disenfranchised. Instant runoff voting will help, and it deserves your "Yes" vote Aug. 27.

Vicki Pate


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