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Boston Globe

Let's try instant runoff voting
Letters
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.

Gibran Rivera
Chairman
Mass VOTE
Boston


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