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Los Angeles Times

November 30 2002

Instant Runoff Voting Would Help Ailing System

George Skelton is wrong in his Nov. 25 column, "Only Fed-Up Voters Can Fix State's Damaged System for Picking Legislators." He suggests having open, nonpartisan primaries, but this wouldn't improve anything, especially because it would limit the general election to only two candidates, among other things.

Instant runoff voting might help. Under this system, votes are cast for the candidates in order of preference. So, if your first choice is the Libertarian candidate, you mark him or her as first choice. Mark your second choice accordingly and the same with the rest. If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and his or her votes are distributed to the remaining candidates according to the next choice on those ballots. The winner is the candidate with the highest preference by a majority of the voters.

This system would allow more participation in elections for voters of all political ideologies. It makes much more sense than meddling in the political parties' internal affairs using open primaries or limiting the choice in the general election to two candidates. Find out more about instant runoff voting at

Fred Mangels

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