Kansas City Star
New voting system allows instant
By Lou Traxel
May 3, 2001
In the aftermath of the 2000
presidential election fiasco, prominent
trumpeted their latest scheme for restoring
democracy to this
most of these suggestions are a step in the right
to address the fundamental problem with our nation's voting
system -- that it does not
ensure majority rule.
Under our present voting
system, the winner is determined as much by
the arbitrary political
distribution of candidates as it
is by the popularity of the
candidate with the most votes.
Candidates who represent a
majority viewpoint will often split the
vote, allowing someone
representing a minority viewpoint to win.
Fortunately, a voting method
does eliminate these problems.
Instant runoff voting permits
voters to rank the candidates in order
of preference. The votes are
initially tabulated by counting only the
voter's first choices. If one
candidate receives a majority, then he
or she is declared the
winner. If no one receives a majority, the
candidate with the fewest
votes is eliminated and votes cast for that
candidate are transferred to
the voters' second choice. The process
is repeated until one
candidate emerges with a majority.
Under this instant system,
qualified individuals would no longer be
afraid to run for office for
fear of hurting the chances of other
candidates, resulting in a
more open debate where issues affecting
average people could no
longer be ignored by the major parties.
Minor-party candidates would
find it easier to qualify for public
campaign funding, thus
reducing the power of private cash to
influence politics. Parties
would need to form coalitions to reach a
majority level of support,
and negative campaigning would be reduced.
Piecemeal reforms are not
what our archaic electoral system needs.
Voters should not be punished
with a government that does not
represent their will simply
because of individuals exercising their
right to run for public
voters have been punished enough. Instant runoff voting is
idea whose time
Lou Traxel is an employee
of Black & Veatch and a resident of Lee's Summit. He is a member of the
Greens of Greater Kansas City and the Midwest Democracy Center.