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Monday, August 09, 2004

San Francisco to use Instant Runoff Voting in November

From the LA Times:
SAN FRANCISCO The city that brought the nation beat poetry, free love and sourdough bread now is taking on election reform. With a quiet nod from the secretary of state, San Francisco will soon let voters rank multiple candidates in citywide elections, a system that proponents say would eliminate the "spoiler" problem if used nationwide.

In November, San Francisco will become the first U.S. city to adopt the voting method since a short-lived experiment three decades ago in Michigan.
The method of voting is used in Australia, Ireland and London. Its history in the United States, however, is limited to the 1975 mayoral contest in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Though the Republican candidate had beaten his Democratic rival in the first round with 49% of the vote to her 40%, she squeaked to victory in a re-tally after the left-leaning Human Rights Party candidate was eliminated. Those voters had chosen the Democrat second. Shortly after that election, Republicans placed a successful measure on the ballot to repeal the system.
%$#@&!! Repugs! We had a great voting system here, and they killed it! (A funny aside: My father was not a fan of the Human Rights Party--HRP--but his 1976 Michigan license plate number was "HRP 476.")

I was out getting signatures to get IRV back on the ballot here in Ann Arbor a couple of weeks ago. I'm just amazed at how few people have ever heard of it. Almost as amazing is that so many people haven't even thought about it. Rather than blame our corrupt two-party winner-take-all system for the abysmal quality of our candidates, they'd rather trash Ralph Nader. It's a bit tricky explaining the system to people, but once you get through, the light bulb goes on. It just plain makes sense. Why should your right to declare a preference evaporate because you actually vote for a candidate you really like? Wait, I know the answer to that one--it's because the Republicans and the Democrats want it that way. Progressives, socialists, libertarians and others who think Bush and Kerry are strichnine and arsenic must be punished, according to the corrupt leaders of the two major parties.

Fortunately, there are a few maverick politicians within the major parties who support IRV--John McCain, Dennis Kucinich, and Howard Dean being the three I'm aware of. If you want to do your part to improve American democracy to the point where it might once again be worthy of the name, please learn about IRV and then tell others about it. Here's a place to start.