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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Democrats against democracy

I strongly support runoff elections, whether instant or not. Our current system of awarding an office to the candidate with the most votes, even if that is much less than 50% of the total, is inherently undemocratic, and totally unnecessary. Whether it is Bill Clinton in 1992 or Al Gore in 2000, simply giving an office to somebody with less than 50% of the vote robs voters of the chance to truly express their preferences. Most succumb to the awful pressure to conform from the two-party system, like I did in 2004, while a few risk the ire of millions by voting for someone they actually like, as I did in 2000. Not only are the principled few who vote their consciences denied decent governance, they aren't even allowed a chance to express a preference between the two corporate evils.

Some places, like Indonesia, Afghanistan, and even Louisiana have runoff voting, while others, like San Francisco, have instant runoff voting. And New York City's Democratic primary for mayor calls for a runoff vote if the leader fails to get 40% in the initial ballot (why not 50%?). Still, the second place finisher in yesterday's primary, Anthony Weiner, is conceding the election to Fernando Ferrer, even though Ferrer only got 39.95% of the vote. The NY Times says that it is unclear whether a runoff is still required. I'd suggest that if Weiner holds any pretensions that "Democratic" still means "democratic," he darn well had better participate in the runoff. Over 30% of the Democrats who voted yesterday didn't vote for either Ferrer or Weiner, and Weiner is telling them rather explicitly that he doesn't care what they think. If that's the case, he shouldn't have been running in the first place. He has no business conceding the race now.