St. Petersburg Times
the instant runoff
By Martin Dyckman
More bad news from Tallahassee: They're going to go
without runoff primaries yet again next year. If Bob Graham, who's
running for president, doesn't seek re-election to his U.S. Senate
seat, a dozen or more people may make the race. A runoff is the only
insurance against the extreme wings of the major parties controlling
the nominations, which would leave more than 6-million voters with
utterly dismal choices in November.
The excuse this time is the
same as in 2002: Florida's costly new voting systems may count votes
more accurately, but they take longer to prepare.
of elections do make a compelling case that they can't do it right
with only four-week intervals between a primary, a runoff and a
general election. That problem could be overcome, however, by
holding the first primary before Labor Day rather than after, but
the Legislature is not exactly wild about voting in August.
try an instant runoff? It ought to be easy to manage with all those
new computers and optical scanners, and would cost far less than a
conventional runoff without imposing any significant extra demands
on the supervisors.
Some legislators are interested in this option,
but the leaders who could make it happen say it's too arcane for the
That's a dodge. Instant runoff
voting is no more complex than saying what flavor of ice cream you
want if they happen to be out of chocolate. Instant runoffs are used
to elect the Australian House of Representatives, the mayor of
London, the president of Ireland, and in hundreds of other public
and corporate situations. The voter simply marks a second choice at
the same time as the first. What is there about it that's so hard
for Florida legislators to understand?