CVD homepage
What's new?
Online library
Order materials
Get involved!
About CVD

The Columbian (WA)

Runoff voting is better

By Mickey Marshall

December 9, 2004

While voting reforms suggested by Secretary of State Sam Reed and some lawmakers might have accelerated the counting of ballots, they would have done nothing to alter the following fact about the gubernatorial race: The winner will not have a majority of the votes. In other words, it is possible that a majority of the voters would prefer the losing candidate.

Instant Runoff Voting is better than our plurality voting system because it ensures majority winners. With IRV, the voters can rank the candidates on the ballot.

If no candidate receives a majority of first-place votes, then the last-place candidate is eliminated and the second choices are counted. In Washington state's gubernatorial race, Ruth Bennett (who supports IRV) would have been eliminated and her voters could have selected either Gregoire or Rossi as their second preference. The 63,000 votes for Bennett would have been distributed to Gregoire and Rossi based on the voters' preferences on the ballots.

In this way, either Gregoire or Rossi would probably have received a majority.

When our lawmakers get to work on electoral reform, I hope they remember that, in a democracy, majority rule is more important than the deadline for absentee ballots.

top of page

Copyright 2002     The Center for Voting and Democracy
6930 Carroll Ave. Suite 610, Takoma Park MD 20912
(301) 270-4616      [email protected]