April 27, 2001
I'm afraid it is
letter-writer Robert Hansen ["Postmarks: IRV Muddies the Voting
Waters," April 6] who is muddying the voting waters. His comments
about IRV are far wide of the mark. IRV is used by millions of
voters around the world every year with none of the problems he
His comments about
U.S. electors are insulting. Most voters know whom they want to see
elected. Most also know whom they would place second if their first
choice couldn't make it home. Many will have a third and fourth
choice, too. The preferences in IRV are not weighted in any way, so
the comment about a "1, 2, 3, ..." scale being far too simplistic is
one is forced to mark preferences they don't have. So if Mr. Hansen
wants to vote only for one candidate who has the support of only a
small minority, he's knows where to put his "1." No one will force
him to mark his ballot for any other candidate.
But many other voters
who support the same candidate also have views about those who will
become the front runners. By marking their other preferences "2, 3,
4, ...", they ensure that their voices will be heard. That doesn't
sound silly to me. Far from harming the electoral system, the
adoption of IRV would be a great step forward for democracy.
the Candidates Themselves
This letter is in
response to Robert Hansen's letter decrying the value of Instant
Runoff Voting (IRV) ["Postmarks: IRV Muddies the Voting Waters,"
April 6]. He says that IRV is a bad idea because it would create
more problems than we already have. Nothing could be further from
is noteworthy that Mr. Hansen contradicts himself at the beginning
of his letter. First, he says that IRV is too difficult to
understand. Then, almost in the same breath, he says that it is "way
too simplistic." Well, which is it? I would submit that this
contradiction reveals the speciousness of his arguments.
IRV is actually a
simple and sensible electoral reform that will save taxpayer money
and create more voter choice in single-winner elections. It allows
voters to vote for multiple candidates in single-seat races by
ranking them in order of preference--1, 2, 3, etc. Most importantly,
it assures that a "spoiler" effect (a la Ralph Nader) will not
split the vote and result in undemocratic outcomes. And, yes, Mr.
Hansen, you can vote for just one candidate without invalidating
IRV saves money
because it eliminates the need for costly two-round runoff
elections. (Austin taxpayers had to dole out $440,000 for the last
runoff election!!!) IRV increases voter turnout because it gives
voters more choices at the polls. IRV promotes positive, issue-based
campaigns, because candidates will want to seek second- and
third-choice votes instead of disparaging their opponents.
IRV is an election
reform that is rapidly gaining attention in the United States. It is
already being used with great success in other democracies around
the world, e.g., in England, Ireland, and Australia. Major efforts
to establish IRV are underway in Alaska, New Mexico, Vermont,
Washington, and California. And now we have the chance to do it
right here in Austin, Texas.
would encourage anyone interested in learning more about IRV to
check out the Center for Voting and Democracy's Web site: www.fairvote.org/irv. There
is a link on that site to information about our efforts here in
Austin, including contact information for members of the City
Council. Please contact your council members to encourage them to
support this simple and sensible democratic reform.
Co-Chair, Green Party
Give IRV a
his April 6 letter concerning the proposed Instant Runoff Voting
(IRV) amendment to the City Charter, Robert Hansen suggests several
problems ["Postmarks: IRV Muddies the Voting Waters"]. I think his
concerns can be addressed easily.
believes that voters are too ignorant to rank candidates on a
ballot. I think he's probably wrong, but in any case the voters
themselves ought to decide. If they agree with him, they can vote
down the charter amendment. It would be informative to hear what
Australians say about it, since they currently use IRV in their
complains that 1-2-3 ranking is too "simplistic." Maybe more
elaborate systems could be devised, but IRV certainly provides more
information about voters' preferences than the current system.
is concerned that a ballot with an incomplete ranking will be
disqualified. It will not. If a voter wants to mark someone for No.1
and that's all, that's fine. If No.1 is eliminated, the voter will
be counted as casting no vote in the subsequent runoffs.
should have a look at this Web site: www.fairvote.org/irv.