Are elections just a game
By Mary Carey
August 16, 2003
electoral reform advocates said they are encouraged by the state's
draft plan to implement the new federal voting standards known as
the Help America Vote Act. In its insistence on buying
state-of-the-art voting machines, the state's plan would help
accommodate reforms such as instant run-off voting, said Peter
Vickery of Amherst. "I'm pretty happy that it commits the secretary
of the commonwealth to evaluating voting equipment regularly to
assess its compatibility with alternative voting systems," Vickery
said. "That's good news for IRV supporters."
Under IRV, a system
endorsed by voters in the legislative districts represented by state
Reps. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, and Ellen Story, D-Amherst, voters
in an election with three or more candidates could rank the
candidates according to their preference. If no candidate received
more than 50 percent of the votes in the first tally, ballots would
be counted again, eliminating the candidate with the least votes and
reapportioning that candidate's votes among the remaining candidates
until one received over 50 percent of the votes.
that implementing the new system is largely a matter of
re-programming voting machines that already are in place. They argue
that the system eliminates the "spoiler" effect and ensures that the
winning candidate is supported by a majority of the voters.
said the California gubernatorial election is a perfect example of
why Massachusetts should adopt IRV.
"In California, it takes a
majority of voters to recall the governor, but only a plurality to
replace him," Vickery said. "So even if 49 percent want to keep Gray
Davis, but a bare majority wants to recall him, the successor could
be a candidate with less than 10 percent of the votes.
California recall is showing us once again that the plurality voting
system just cannot cope with an election with more than two
candidates," he said. "With so many people running, they might as
well spin a roulette wheel."