Preferential Voting Offers More Choice to Voters
Published February 24th 2004 in Daily Californian
Among the legacies left after the 2000 presidential election is an acute awareness something is wrong with the way elections are held in the United States. Not only are people angry about the choices they are given on the ballot, they are increasingly frustrated by a system which forces them to select the lesser of two evils.

One of the reforms being considered in Berkeley is instant runoff voting, also know as preferential voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. It offers several advantages over conventional winner-take-all voting.

Since voters would be able to rank candidates, it would allow third-party and small-party candidates a more viable chance of being elected to office.

Additionally, for cities and counties struggling with finances, preferential voting is a means to save money. Currently when an election fails to render a single candidate with a majority of the vote, another election has to be held. But preferential voting would do away with the extra costs by getting voters’ preferences in a runoff up front. All that would be required is a retabulation of the ballots and the results would be known the same night. This would be better than paying for another election and waiting weeks or months to know who won.

Eliminating runoff elections would also mean candidates would not be forced to scramble for money to sustain their campaigns for a second election.

When the results of the instant runoff are decided, voters can be assured that the eventual winners won by a majority of the votes cast, thereby adding a greater degree of certainty that the winner reflects the will of the voters.

But far and away the best feature of preferential voting is that people to feel that their vote counts.