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Irregular Voting

Dec
6
2004

This could be interesting. The make-up of the panel I’m on Thursday evening at the Commonwealth Club’s Inforum has changed to include Steven Hill from the Center for Voting and Democracy, the group evangelizing in favor of “instant run-off” voting and other voting reform efforts.
IRV is fine theory but a bad, bad idea in practice. Made popular by the New America Foundation’s Ted Halstead and Michael Lind in their book, “The Radical Center,” IRV is supposed to encourage the development and popularity of third parties by creating a system that – theoretically – distributes votes to a variety of candidates and does away with Republican and Democratic party dominance.


In reality – as we saw last month right here in San Francisco — it confuses voters, particularly non-native English speakers. It turns elections into scary real-life reality TV shows, where candidates try to game the results by co-operating while they campaign and raise money together, a sure sign of trouble to anyone with any political sense. Elections become popularity contests because voters go for the name they recognize. That’s why Ross Mirkarimi, a name well known to Haight residents because of his work for former supervisor Matt Gonzalez won in District 5. It’s why incumbents won all over the city.
IRV proponents say San Francisco was lazy in implementing the system. Certainly the city was sloppy. But can someone please, please tell me why – when voter interest and turn-out across the country is higher than it’s ever been and when elections offices across the country are clearly under-funded and poorly managed – why the Center for Voting and Democracy is working to make the election process more complicated? Isn’t what happened in Ohio and Florida proof that simple – simple and well-funded – elections, not some wacky formula, are what’s really needed?
All this and more, no doubt. Thursday, the 9th, at 6:30. Here are details.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:12 AM | Permalink

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