Nader's candidacy points to need for instant runoff
By Neil Munro
thinks of Ralph Nader's new presidential attempt, it may be
just what the nation needs.
And that would be a reform of
what we do with multicandidate ballots.
Democrats haven't forgotten
that Nader's candidacy in 2000 probably cost Al Gore the White
House. In Florida, Nader got almost 100,000 votes. The
common-sense assumption is that most of them would have gone
As it was, the outcome
there was so close the U.S. Supreme Court ended up deciding
And Republicans haven't
forgotten that Ross Perot won enough votes that likely would
have gone to then-President George H.W. Bush to allow Bill
Clinton to defeat him and win the presidency.
Clinton was the choice
of less than half the voters.
If there were three or
four presidential candidates of equal strength, we could end
up electing someone who was the choice not only of a minority,
but of a small minority, of citizens.
This could happen. What
if Howard Dean decides to get himself on the ballot in most
It makes most of us
uncomfortable to think that someone can become president with
less than half the votes simply because a Nader or a Perot
runs a campaign to "make a point."
The selection of the
presidency is too important to be so open to being co-opted by
a candidate with a personal ax to grind.
Perot and Nader
"elected" the winners in 1992 and 2000, respectively. It's as
simple as that.
Something can be
We could adopt what's
called instant runoff voting. Under it, you vote for a first
and second choice and any other in order of your
If, when the votes are
counted, no candidate has a majority, the second choices of
those who voted for the candidate with the lowest total are
added to the totals of the remaining candidates.
When one candidate gets
a majority, the election is over.
It is described as an
"instant" system because, unlike with typical runoff
elections, there is no returning to the polls.
No one would feel
cheated, not even the Perot and Nader voters, who would have
been able to make their point without, as a result, helping to
elect someone they disagreed with.
Instant runoff voting
is not something new under the sun.
It is used in Ireland
and Australia and in parts of Great Britain. These are
countries that share our political heritage.
Many of our states use
runoffs, but voters have to return to the polls. Several
cities in the West reportedly are planning to adopt the
instant system this year.
Right here in Oakland
County, the progressive city of Ferndale is strongly
considering that type of voting.
The nation certainly
should adopt the change. In the meantime, Michigan could be a
leader, too. Democrat Gary Peters of Oakland County most
likely would be attorney general had it not been for a strong
Green Party liberal candidate on the ballot.
It is very difficult
not to be uneasy at the prospect of another minority
president, no matter who wins, just because Nader wants to
strut his stuff.