Let's try instant runoff voting
September 17, 2002
There's a good chance in today's primaries and in the
final election that the winners will not get a majority of the
votes. Lower-ranking candidates may be called spoilers by some. But
why shouldn't the winner have a majority? Is it not fair that voters
should expect the winner to win with 50 percent or more?
A runoff should be part of today's vote and the final
elections in November to ensure that the winners are actually the
choice of the majority. A second runoff election can be costly and
have low voter turnout. The better solution is to adopt instant
runoff voting. Instant runoff voting allows voters to indicate their
runoff choices in addition to their first choice by ranking them 1,
2, 3, etc. If no candidate gets an outright majority, the votes of
the least favored candidates are transferred to the candidates still
in the running. This deters negative campaigning because candidates
must worry about attracting votes from their opponents.
Roberts Rules of Order recommends this system. It is
already used effectively in elections in Ireland, Australia, and
England. With instant runoff voting, the spoiler problem is
eliminated. Instead of suppressing third parties or candidates, they
can join the debate while still ensuring that the winner is the
choice of the majority of all voters.