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Great letters and editorials in Missoula

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  • rrlemur
    There have been some great letters to editors and editorials in Missoula this month. Great job to the writers! I have posted them below for everyone s
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2005
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      There have been some great letters to editors and editorials in
      Missoula this month. Great job to the writers! I have posted them
      below for everyone's information.
      -Edwin Price
      (Formerly of Missoula, currently of London, Ontario)
      ***********************
      The first was a letter to the Missoulian by Deborah Richie
      Oberbillig printed Sept 20th:
      Instant runoff' would save money


      After voting in the primary election this September, I found myself
      wishing I could vote once this fall and eliminate the long and
      expensive campaign season. In fact, we could eliminate the primary
      by electing majority winners in a single-round "instant runoff." San
      Francisco uses this system now and has sharply cut the costs of
      running for office by holding one instead of two elections.
      Taxpayers there will save $20 million over the coming decade.

      Suppose we were using an instant runoff this year. Instead of having
      two elections, we'd elect a majority winner in one election in
      November, when more people vote. With six mayoral candidates, voters
      would indicate their favorite choice, but also have the option to
      indicate their runoff choices by ranking the candidates in order:
      first choice, second choice and so on.

      To determine the winner, we would add up the first choices. If a
      candidate had a majority of at least 50 percent, plus one, we'd have
      a winner. If not, the top candidates would advance to a second
      runoff round of counting. If your first choice is one of those
      candidates, your ballot again would count for that candidate. If
      your first choice didn't earn enough votes to advance, your ballot
      would count for your next choice candidate in the runoff.

      For voters, this is as easy as one, two, three. Ballot counting is
      easy as well with modern voting equipment that counts votes rapidly
      and efficiently. Take a look at www.fairvote.org for a wealth of
      information on instant runoff voting and its impressive success
      record.
      *******************
      Another letter to the editor was printed in the Missoulian Sept 27th
      by Eric Mendelson:

      Instant runoff vote the way to go


      By Eric Mendelson
      Published September 27th 2005 in The Missoulian

      The close results of our recent mayoral primary will leave many
      frustrated voters and "if-only-I'd" voters. There is a better way:
      instant runoff vote elections, a method Deborah Oberbillig proposed
      on this page on Sept. 20. This method eliminates the need for
      primary elections and has other advantages. How do I know? I co-led
      an IRV special election in Ithaca, N.Y., a few years ago. It proved
      more efficient and most of all, yielded a fairer representation of
      voters' preferences. Also, voters in various locations who've rank-
      choice voted (IRVs) usually want more IRV elections.

      Standard American elections can offer reasonable results with two
      candidates. Less fair results often come with multiple candidates.
      Imagine an election with candidates getting similar numbers of
      votes: Candidate A getting 2,204 votes, B getting 2,206, C getting
      2,211 votes and D 500. Let's picture an IRV feature: that voters got
      to cast their second choices, too, on their ballots. When no
      candidate receives an outright majority of first-choice votes, the
      lowest vote-getter is eliminated, and his voters' second choices get
      counted as votes for remaining candidates. If Candidate A in my
      hypothetical election was the second choice of 5,820 voters, an
      overwhelming majority, who'd better represent the will of the
      voters: A? Or would B and C?

      If this were a standard election's primary, B and C would move on to
      the general election, repeating their whole campaigns (any wonder so
      many voters blow off primaries?) with Candidate A eliminated. Yet, I
      suggest that A might well turn out the clear voter preference were
      he or she included in the general election. A single IRV election
      would democratically provide a winner chosen by at least 50 percent
      of voters, not a pair of temporary winners from a plurality of the
      few primary voters. I endorse Oberbillig 's IRV idea to prevent
      another this-just-doesn't-seem-right election result. We voters and
      our next mayor deserve better.

      *****************
      Finally, the Missoula Independent endorsed IRV! See below:

      Editorial


      By staff
      Published September 22nd 2005 in Missoula Independent

      Last week's six-candidate mayoral primary—and a dead heat for the
      second slot in November's runoff election—raises the issue of
      whether Missoula's voting system is the most effective and efficient
      way to discern voter preference for the candidates.

      It doesn't seem to be the most effective way to decide elections,
      because even prior to the recount that begins on Friday, fully 2,260
      primary votes will not matter a whit to who gets on the ballot in
      November; soon nearly 1,600 more voters will be added to that total.
      Likely, nearly every one of those voters had a #2 in mind. If we are
      interested in elections that accurately reflect voter preference,
      these second choices ought to play a role.

      There is a way to do this: Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). IRV allows
      the expression of a first preference as well as secondary and
      tertiary preferences; essentially, it allows voters to rank
      candidates. It's not a new concept; IRV has been used in Australia
      for over a century and is currently used in San Francisco and
      Cambridge, Mass., city elections.

      To see how IRV would work, consider how it would have handled John
      D'Orazi's 624 voters. When it became clear that no candidate had
      earned a majority, votes for the sixth-place finisher would have
      been reallocated among the remaining candidates according to the
      second preferences of D'Orazi voters as expressed on their ballots.
      This process of reallocating votes could continue, encompassing the
      second (and sometimes third) preferences of Jerry Ballas, Clayton
      Floyd and probably Geoff Badenoch voters until one candidate had
      earned a majority of all votes cast.

      And there's where the efficiency comes in. An election run under
      instant runoff rules eliminates the need for poorly-attended primary
      elections altogether, avoiding redundant administrative costs while
      better reflecting actual voter preference, rather than the
      organizing power of a candidate's election machine.

      Ultimately, IRV might even encourage greater participation by
      eliminating the need for voters to choose between a minority
      candidate representing their views and an electable lesser of two
      evils.

      Currently, Article IV, Section 5 of the Montana Constitution
      declares, "in all elections held by the people, the person or
      persons receiving the largest number of votes shall be declared
      elected," which conflicts with the mechanics of IRV. That wording's
      intention, doubtless, is to ensure that the preferences of voters
      are respected and reflected in electoral outcomes.

      If there's a better method of determining those preferences—and it
      seems IRV might be just that—then it might be time to explore what
      revisions would be necessary to allow Missoula and other localities
      to implement it.
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