IRV will give military more time to vote

By Mark B. San Souci; Lakewood
Published October 29th 2006 in Tacoma News Tribune
I wholeheartedly agree with The News Tribune’s support (editorial, 10-22) for Amendment 3, the Pierce County charter reform proposal to replace the pick-a-party primary for most county offices with instant runoff voting. But the editorial missed one strong selling point that is particularly important to me as a retired military officer: the voting rights of our military voters overseas.

Those defending our country often don’t have a chance to participate in picking our leaders. With our late primary and the chance for further delays due to contested results, there’s just not enough time for our county administrator to mail out ballots to people overseas and be sure to have them back in time.

The Pentagon’s Federal Voting Assistance Program says that there should be at least 45 days between the time ballots are sent to voters and when completed ballots are received at election offices. This year that mailing date should have been on Sept. 23, but that was just four days after our primary and long before primary results were certified and general election ballots printed.

While the state Legislature did pass legislation this past year to move the primary election forward to August, this would be unnecessary with IRV.

South Carolina and Arkansas this year joined Louisiana in having their overseas military voters use an instant runoff ballot when they have such runoffs. By passing Amendment 3, we can at least put this in place for county elections in 2008.