Voter Turnaround

By Irving Leemon and Sinclaire Buckstaff
Published October 4th 2009 in Daily News (Los Angeles)
Question of the week

Should L.A. revise its voting system to get higher turnout?

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Instant runoffs save money

There are two main problems without our current election system: low voter participation and high costs. Last week's special election for Council District 2 cost L.A. taxpayers more than $65 per vote. Making matters worse, more money is already being spent on the December runoff election, where turnout is expected to plunge into the single digits.

Allowing voters to rank their top three choices with instant runoff voting would eliminate the need for costly runoff elections while also reducing voter fatigue. If IRV had been used in the CD 2 election, taxpayers would have been saved nearly $1 million.

IRV is a proven, cost-effective system. Since 2004, IRV has saved San Francisco about $3 million dollars per election and raised turnout in the one election that counts.

In these bad economic times, Los Angeles must stop wasting precious tax dollars on needless elections. Wouldn't we all rather have our hard-earned money go toward education, housing, or transportation?


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Instant runoff the only option

Now, voters have no real option. A vote for any low-funded candidate is wasted. The only real option is to decide which of the funded candidates is the least worst and vote accordingly. This dismal option and predictable awful outcome drive most voters away.

The "instant runoff" has several benefits, and one is huge. With this system, voters could cast their first and second choices for their actual choices and then cast his last vote for the "least worse" as usual. This option might bring a lot of voters into the polls who stay away now and we might actually have a meaningful election. It is time to try it, but the entrenched incumbents will fight it tooth and nail.