[EM] FWD - [instantrunoff] Houston column on IRV

Instant Runoff Voting supporter donald at mich.com
Sat Nov 25 02:19:36 PST 2000

  ------------ Forwarded Letter ------------
To: <instantrunoff at egroups.com>
From: "David Cobb" <cobbweb at greens.org>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 16:27:30 -0600
Subject: [instantrunoff] Houston column on IRV


Although it's not exactly what I would have written, below is the published
op-ed piece on IRV which appeared in the Houston Chronicle.

David Cobb
Secretary, GPTX

Copyright 2000 The Houston Chronicle Publishing Company
                            The Houston Chronicle

                              View Related Topics

              November 15, 2000, Wednesday 3 STAR EDITION

SECTION: A; Pg. 35

LENGTH: 462 words

HEADLINE: Simple voting reform can save Electoral College

BYLINE: DOUG SANDAGE; Sandage, a Houston attorney and mediator, was a 2000
Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate.


THREE days after the election, I got an earful from an old friend who backed
Al Gore.  My Green Party's candidate Ralph Nader had possibly "handed" the
election to George W. Bush, he said. By standing up for our principles, we
Greens had betrayed them.

As much as I disagree with my friend, I can see his point. And I regret that
whoever enters the White House next year will do so under a cloud. It didn't
have to be that way.

We could enact a simple reform - without abolishing the Electoral College -
that could ensure the correct reading of the peoples' will, and avoid the
confusion - bordering on crisis - that now confronts America.

First, consider that as appealing as the abolition of the Electoral College
now sounds to some, it poses dangers. Candidates might campaign only in the
big cities, and close elections might require national recounts and spur
court battles in many localities.

However there is a voting reform to consider that would address many issues
in one fell swoop.

It's called "instant run-off voting." It would eliminate the scenario of
Ralph Nader "costing" Al Gore the 2000 election, or Ross Perot "costing"
President George Bush re-election in 1992.

Instead of voting for just one candidate, voters would note their
preferences in a 1-2-3 sequence. If their first (or second) preference were
not among the top two vote-getters, their second (or third) preference would
automatically receive their votes. A voter this year who had rank-ordered
Nader and Gore as 1 and 2, would have seen his or her vote ultimately go to
Gore. In the meantime, though, Nader would have received public credit for
all of his first-preference votes, both as raw numbers and for federal
matching funds.

Other third parties and their ideas and candidates also would be accorded
similar public attention, credit and funding. Instead of being forced to
pick the lesser of two evils for "practical" reasons, voters could express
their true opinions with no practical downside. The entire electoral (and
democratic) process would be enriched.

The issues that confront America today are too complex and too critical to
be addressed by only two parties. I believe that the United States will some
day adopt a proportional representation system similar to that of many other
Western democracies. But first things first. For now, the two major parties
may remain predominant, but the debate must be broadened.

We can broaden that debate, and also avoid repeating the current election
debacle, by this simple electoral reform. Of course, we would have to update
our balloting technology to the 21st century to allow for instant run-off
voting. But I shouldn't need to convince you after the events of the last
few days that we need to do that anyway.

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