October 21, 2004
Ferndale voters can make every vote count more by approving
Proposal B for instant runoff voting.
The instant runoff ballot proposal would let voters register
their first choice and rank the other options. Voters could, in
effect, hedge their bets and maintain influence even when their
first choice doesn't win. The system is common in Europe but rare in
the United States.
A yes vote would amend the Ferndale city charter and apply to
mayor and City Council elections only.
The sophisticated system more accurately reflects voter
sentiment. As it stands, candidates with little support can now win
some elections when several candidates split the vote. Under the new
system, voters would get a first, second and third choice, ranked in
order of preference. If no candidate gets a majority, the system
eliminates the candidate with the fewest votes. Second-choice votes
for those candidates go to remaining candidates until one candidate
gets a majority.
Council member Scott Galloway said the new system would bring out
more voters and give diverse candidates, including conservatives, a
better chance to win.
It would also allow voters to vote for a long-shot candidate
without feeling that they're throwing away their votes.
Instant runoff wouldn't start until Ferndale has the technology
for it. The city plans to buy new optical scan voting equipment next
year. Adding the software to make instant runoff work would cost
Often on the cutting edge of government, Ferndale deserves credit
for trying something different. The city would have to educate its
citizens on how the new system works. First, Ferndale residents
should embrace the opportunity for more choices, and power, by
voting YES on Proposal B.