Editorial: A worthy experiment
Davis: Yes on Measure L, choice voting

Published October 14th 2006 in Sacramento Bee

In Davis, a city that likes to get its exercise by bicycling to the ballot box, voters will get a chance in November to recommend a new system of voting in City Council contests.

Currently, Davis elects its five-member council in a setup similar to other cities. If two of the seats are up for grabs, each voter chooses his or her two preferences. The top vote- getters take office, even if those two winners may not necessarily be the overall favorites of the electorate.

Measure L, an advisory measure, would ask the city to adopt an alternative system, known as choice voting. Under such a system, voters would rank each candidate in order of preference -- 1, 2, 3, etc. -- regardless of the number of open seats. The candidates with the best overall rankings would win.

While choice voting is complicated, it eliminates the need for runoffs, saving money and campaign costs. Cambridge, Mass., has used choice voting for years. San Francisco uses it in district elections. This system may not work for many communities, and possibly not most communities. But a civically active place such as Davis is a perfect local test site for such an experiment.

Measure L is just advisory. To adopt this method, Davis would need to become a charter city or get state legislation passed to allow choice voting. But since many residents want to pursue the idea -- no one submitted a ballot statement in opposition -- we see no reason why Davis shouldn't pass Measure L.