Why two elections when one will do?

By Rob Latham
Published October 19th 2005 in Standard-Examiner
At least two thoughts came to my mind after reading your Oct. 10 editorial on the low primary-election turnouts throughout Utah, "Those curious primaries."
First, according to a study by University of California political scientists Benjamin Highton and Raymond Wolfinger, "voters' preferences differ minimally from those of all citizens. Outcomes would not change if everyone voted."
So, if you didn't vote, there's no need to beat yourself up.
Second, in this era of shrinking budgets, it makes less sense to conduct two elections when one election will do. Under an electoral system called "instant-runoff voting," voters can list candidates in their order of preference -- first choice, second choice, and so on -- instead of choosing just one. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is declared defeated. The ballots are then recounted and allocated to the remaining candidates according to the highest-ranked choices that remain. The process continues until one candidate has a majority.
By replacing primary and general elections with one election using instant-runoff voting, all participants save both time and money.
The Center for Voting and Democracy has more information about American cities and organizations already using instant-runoff voting on its Web site at www.fairvote.org.