Better Voting System
On Oct. 20, we saw the full complement of
gubernatorial candidates debate in Syracuse. ["The Minute Melee:
Pataki, Opponents Square Off," News, Oct. 21].
Whatever his true motive, Gov. George Pataki rightly
stood up for the right of the third-party candidates to participate
in the debates. But what is the role of these third-party
candidates? More to the point, will it happen again? Will a third
party candidate play the spoiler? Will Tom Golisano be the Ralph
Nader of New York? Or will voters shy away from voting for the
candidate they truly support because they feel like they will be
wasting their vote?
It doesn't have to be this way. A method of election
known as instant runoff voting solves this problem. Voters rank
candidates in order of preference. If a candidate does not receive a
majority of votes, the candidate who received the fewest first
choice ballots is eliminated.
Voters who chose the now-eliminated candidate as their
top choice then have their vote counted for their second choice
candidate - just as if they were voting in a traditional two-round
runoff election - while the votes of all other voters continue
supporting their top choice candidate. The process continues until
one candidate receives a majority of the votes cast.
Instant runoff voting eliminates the problem of
spoiler candidates and allows voters to express their true
preference at the polls. Third parties have an important role in the
democratic system. Unfortunately, our current procedures all too
often squelch their voices and suppress their vote.