Instant run-off

By Charles Woodrow
Published November 18th 2006 in Courier Post

While watching the early election returns, I saw Democratic operative James Carville make the claim the Democratic Senate candidate from Virginia, Jim Webb, would be the clear winner if not for the "Green Party" candidate. The fact that this candidate was not actually affiliated with the Green Party did not stop Carville from getting in his dig. But the important point about his statement is the questionable assumption which he doled out as truth.

It is quite possible that most of the 26,000 people who voted for the independent Virginia candidate would not have voted for either of the two corporate-financed parties under any circumstances. It is also possible that many would have voted for the Republican. The fact is, we will never know.

We allow elections to be won without a majority and, sadly, we never know what the result of a run-off election would have been.

Instead of blaming seemingly unfair election results on third-party candidates, we should be holding fair and democratic elections. Instant runoff voting would allow each voter to rank his/her selections. If no one gets a majority and your first choice comes in last, your next choice takes effect. This is repeated until only two candidates remain. The final winner always has a majority and it is, therefore, impossible for an election to be "spoiled." Voters would no longer feel compelled to vote for the "lesser evil."

Third parties would be taken more seriously and would thus appear on the ballot more often, creating more choices. And more choices mean more democracy.