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Common Sense series

Better Voting?
August 26, 2002

When they count the votes in Alaska, most of us on the East Coast will have long since gone to bed. But tomorrow night, you might want to stay up late. Alaska could be setting a national trend, becoming the first state to change the way it votes.

It's not some new anti-chad machine, it's Ballot Measure One on Instant Runoff Voting, which Alaska could be the first state to adopt.

Instant Runoff Voting allows the voter to specify not only his first choice, but also his second, and, depending on the number of candidates, a third and fourth choice. This way, if the leading candidate fails to get a majority, a runoff vote happens automatically. The runoff works by dropping the last place candidate and then reallocating his votes to the voter's next preference. The process is repeated until one candidate wins a true majority.

The voting system we have now only helps to entrench incumbent politicians. Typically, voters must choose between the lesser of two evils. With the reform of Ballot Measure One, voters can choose their favorite candidate without the risk that they'll throw the election to the worst candidate. No more fear of a wasted vote, when you want to vote your conscience.

And Instant Runoff Voting saves money. Not having to hold a separate runoff election -- an election that almost always has abysmal turnout anyway -- saves oodles of tax dollars. I like that.

If the pioneering spirit survives in Alaska, They'll pass this reform and show the whole country a new way of empowering voters. The vote is August 27, tomorrow . . . stay tuned. This is Common Sense. I'm Paul Jacob.

The opinions expressed in Common Sense are Paul Jacob's and may not necessarily represent the position of U.S. Term Limits or the U.S. Term Limits Foundation. Common Sense is presented to facilitate a dialogue on current affairs, especially government reform. We welcome your comments. Paul's daily commentaries are heard on radio stations nationwide and on the Internet. E-mail: [email protected]


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