Auditor trying to discredit ranked choice

By Kelly Haughton
Published September 28th 2009 in The News Tribune
The Pierce County Elections Department is missing opportunities to save taxpayer money. During the primary season, it did not anticipate that about one-third of voters would receive a primary ballot with only one port commissioner race. By getting permission to run these races using ranked choice voting (RCV) and eliminating the need for a primary, the Elections Department could have saved the port district and the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now, after being warned about the higher costs of running races on separate ballot cards, the Elections Department will be sending two ballot cards to each voter this fall. One ballot card will have only one race on it. This is a waste of more hundreds of thousands of dollars on printing and postage. Plus, voters will need to use two stamps to return their ballots.

While it would have taken some initiative to find a solution to this problem, our Elections Department should be aggressive in managing expenses. Of course, there is a political explanation for this lackluster effort: The auditor will be blaming RCV for this extra expense, while the real reason is her own lack of initiative.

If the auditor had taken advantage of these cost-saving measures, RCV would have resulted in lower total costs this year. Instead, she and her predecessor have run up expenses in order to discredit RCV. In jurisdictions where RCV is implemented properly, it saves money. It’s time for this to happen in Pierce County.

IRV Soars in Twin Cities, FairVote Corrects the Pundits on Meaning of Election Night '09
Election Day '09 was a roller-coaster for election reformers.  Instant runoff voting had a great night in Minnesota, where St. Paul voters chose to implement IRV for its city elections, and Minneapolis voters used IRV for the first time—with local media touting it as a big success. As the Star-Tribune noted in endorsing IRV for St. Paul, Tuesday’s elections give the Twin Cities a chance to show the whole state of Minnesota the benefits of adopting IRV. There were disappointments in Lowell and Pierce County too, but high-profile multi-candidate races in New Jersey and New York keep policymakers focused on ways to reform elections;  the Baltimore Sun and Miami Herald were among many newspapers publishing commentary from FairVote board member and former presidential candidate John Anderson on how IRV can mitigate the problems of plurality elections.

And as pundits try to make hay out of the national implications of Tuesday’s gubernatorial elections, Rob Richie in the Huffington Post concludes that the gubernatorial elections have little bearing on federal elections.