Letter: The Running Party

By Robyn Sklar
Published September 29th 2005 in Queens Ledger
Dear Editor:
New York City needs to adopt Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), as they have in San Francisco and cities around the world.
IRV is often referred to as “ranked choice voting.” This simple reform allows voters to rank the candidates in their order of preference by placing a “1” next to their first choice, a “2” next to their second choice, and so on. If your first choice candidate is eliminated due to lack of support, then your vote is transferred to your next choice until one candidate receives at least 50% of the support.
The need for a costly runoff weeks later (often with even lower voter turnout) is eliminated, hence the term “instant” runoff voting. The Board of Elections estimates that a mayoral runoff would have cost $12 million. This expense was avoided this year, but a slightly smaller amount was already spent on the runoff in 2001.
How many times is our taxpayer money going to be wasted? How often will all residents have to foot the bill for a primary runoff that only affects one political party?
The Green Party is a staunch supporter of IRV and other electoral reforms like proportional representation. IRV encourages cooperation between candidates rather than confrontation. Additionally, the “spoiler” effect that makes far too many tactically vote for the lesser of two evils disappears since voter preferences are transferred.
There are many reasons to support IRV, including fiscal responsibility and grassroots democracy. Are these values supported by the Democratic Party candidates? If so, I expect to hear their voices joining me and fellow Green Party candidate Gloria Mattera for Brooklyn Borough President calling for election reform now.
Robyn Sklar