Common Sense series
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
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: