[EM] Will the real John Gear please stand up.

Donald E. Davison donald at mich.com
Mon Nov 20 08:08:03 PST 2000

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 11-20-00
Greetings MikeO,

     I received the following post on another list.
     Please notice the person who forwarded the post is John Gear.
     Is this our John Gear - the John Gear of Washington state?
     Have you been in touch with him since he offered you a mud bath? Ha Ha
     If not, will the real John Gear please stand up.

Donald Davison

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 11-17-00
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: John Gear <fairvotemichigan at home.com>
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 14:40:58 -0800
Subject: Common Cause Calls for Discussion of Instant Runoff Voting



Even without knowing at this moment who will be our 43rd President, we have
learned several lessons thus far from this faulty process:

First, we must hold our candidates to a higher standard. Whenever elections
are close, or there are questions about the outcome, citizens want
candidates to put the good of the country before their own victories. While
it is easy to sympathize with presidential candidates who may appear to be
separated from each other only by a few hundred votes, their saber rattling
about transitions or litigation has the potential of eroding confidence in
our democracy both at home and abroad. In a time like this, candidates and
their surrogates alike might be best served by keeping the inflammatory
rhetoric to a minimum -- knowing that it is not only their place in history
which is at stake; it is our history and our future as a nation at stake.

Second, these elections demonstrate that many of the voting systems used in
states around the country are inconsistent, arcane, and inaccurate. At the
very least, this presidential election drama should ignite a new national
dialogue about standardizing these systems so that the outcome of an
election -- even the closest election -- will never be in doubt. Although
the conduct of elections is  primarily handled at the state level,
legislation at the federal level may at least provide broad guidelines, if
not specific instructions, for states to follow in this area. Furthermore,
there should be more discussion about voting by mail or voting via the
Internet, which some believe may provide greater measures of accuracy and
ease for voters and vote counters alike.

This election also should trigger discussions about the value of Instant
Run-off Voting, a system by which voters rank candidates in order of
preference. With Instant Run-off Voting, if no candidate wins a majority of
voters' first choices, the candidates coming in last are eliminated and
their voters' ballots counted for their second choices. Candidates are
eliminated until a winner emerges -- a  winner with a majority rather than
a plurality.

Third, the 2000 presidential contest already has sparked a dialogue on the
future of the Electoral College. In 1977, Common Cause testified in favor
of a constitutional amendment providing for the direct election of the
President and Vice President. This election will provide our nation the
opportunity to renew this debate and to again examine whether the Electoral
College is an outmoded process.

Our new-found awareness of the fragility of the election process should
help us tackle these challenges and make our democracy stronger and more
vibrant.  This election also should reinforce the citizens' faith that
their vote does make a difference.

In the absence of any of these possible changes, however, it is important
that every vote in any election is counted -- and that we put a higher
premium on accuracy than we do on speed.

No one would have wished for this election outcome. But in the months and
years ahead, the on-going, often tedious work of revitalizing our democracy
must continue. Democracy is not static. Democracy is a process, and a
fragile  legacy that must be earned by every generation.

                                             Copyright 2000, Common Cause

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