Try choice voting

By Chris Jerdonek
Published November 18th 2004 in Davis Enterprise
To the editor:

The Presidential election left many people in despair. Despite working so hard, a lot of people got nothing out of it. Imagine instead an election system where everybody wins. Can there be such a thing? For the city of Davis, the answer is yes!

Multi-winner choice voting is an election system in which everybody wins. The Davis Governance Task Force is looking closely at this system for our future city council elections. It represents voters better than any other city election system in use today.

How does it work? Say we're electing three people to the Davis city council. Choice voting makes it much easier to get elected. With three winners, a candidate only needs 25% voter support to win. With more winners, this percent goes down.

To vote, you rank the candidates 1, 2, 3, and so on. First, the top choices are tallied. If your top choice loses or wins with votes to spare, your vote moves to your next choice down, and so on. The beauty of choice voting is that there are no wasted votes. Every voter gets to elect a top choice.

Choice voting has so many advantages over Davis' current block voting system. With choice voting, similar candidates can't hurt each other by splitting their common vote. They help each other. Also, choice voting removes the incentives to bullet vote. Under the current winner-take-all system, a minority of voters can elect the entire council. In contrast, choice voting guarantees that the outcome is an accurate cross-section of the entire voting body.

Choice voting is becoming more widespread every year. UC Davis students are using choice voting for the second year in a row this week. This fall, for the first time ever, San Francisco used a ranked voting system very similar to choice voting. In British Columbia, Canada, their official citizens' assembly voted 146-7 to recommend choice voting. The assembly comprised 160 randomly selected citizens and studied voting systems for ten months.

This is an exciting opportunity for everyone in the Davis community. To become involved or learn more about Davis choice voting, e-mail Davis Citizens for Representation at [email protected].

Chris Jerdonek