Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vincent Orange wins: results, and is it time for instant runoff voting?

Last night's city council at-large special election is over, and Vincent Orange won with just over 28% of the vote, beating Patrick Mara by about 1,200 votes (Mara had 25.68% of the vote). In Ward 1, which includes Columbia Heights, Bryan Weaver came out on top with 34% of the vote, with Mara second with 23%, Biddle in 3rd and Orange in 4th. Orange took wards 4, 5, 7, and 8, while Mara took 2, 3, and 6. Turnout was less than 10%.

Citywide, however, Vincent Orange's 28% of the vote means 72% of DC residents didn't vote for our new councilman. Is it time for instant runoff voting? A lot of people on Twitter and the blogosphere have been talking about it.

Basically it means that instead of voting for one person, you put your preferences for different candidates -- 1, 2, and 3 for example. Then if no candidate has a majority of #1 preference votes, the person with the fewest votes is eliminated and their votes are distributed based on the 2nd choice preference, and so on until somebody gets 50% of the votes. It's best for ballots where there's many candidates, such as special elections or even at-large seats during regular elections.

What do you think? I think it'd also be good for things like ANC elections, if people can form that many opinions of ANC candidates.


  1. First, let's get rid of the crazy process by which Biddle got to be on the Council. The whole notion of electing an "interim" member is nonsense. Seats in the U.S. House remain vacant for months at a time. Within the past half-century, the vice presidency of the United States has been vacant three times, for periods of six weeks, four months, and 14 months. And yet for some reason, the city council of the nation's 27th most populous city cannot operate at 92 percent capacity for the brief period it takes to schedule a special election?

    It's scandalous that 76 people
    got to choose a representative for 602,000, however briefly.

  2. Just to be clear, Orange received only 2.6% of votes, if you consider that only 10% of registered voters actually showed up.

  3. For a city that is supposedly so concerned about representation people don't seem to turn out to vote when it actually counts. Talk is easier than actual civic responsibility.

  4. Definitely agree that we need instant runoff voting. I live with 2 other people and the 3 of us were all trying to decide between Weaver and Mara. Two of us voted Weaver and one Mara. Had we known it was going to come down to Orange or Mara, we definitely would have voted Mara. I know we weren't the only ones.

  5. The policy differences between Mara and Weaver are astounding. Every time I hear about a voter who says they were struggling to decide between Mara and Weaver, I lose a bit more faith in the electorate's ability to actually evaluate candidates in any serious way.

    How can you be evenly divided between supporting a pro-tax candidate (Weaver) and an anti-tax candidate (Mara)? How can you be equally for a candidate that opposes corporate influence in local politics (Weaver) and one that is just fine with it (Mara)?

    It blows my people even listen or do they only care about niche similarities (i.e. Mara and Weaver both saying they want reform, even though they have totally different ways of going about it)?


  6. Alan: I didn't say that I believed Weaver and Mara had similar policies. The way I can be divided over voting Mara or Weaver? I prefer either of them to Orange or Biddle. The reason I voted for Weaver rather than Mara is that I DO like Weaver's policies better, but had I had to pick between Orange and Mara, my vote would have gone to Mara.

    Your comment, " Every time I hear about a voter who says they were struggling to decide between Mara and Weaver,I lose a bit more faith in the electorate's ability to actually evaluate candidates in any serious way" is insulting, especially when you do not even know by what criteria a person is evaluating a candidate. On a personal note, I've done graduate work in poli sci-- don't tell me I don't know how to navigate a local election. Stepping off my soap box now.

  7. Someone who voted for weaver but would have been ok with several othersApril 29, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    Hey, Alan.

    Every time you make snide comments about an electorate that can make competent decisions for themselves and choose not to vote for you, you make me lose more faith in the DC Statehood Green party.

    There are many ways to improve DC - consider that some people are open to any good person proposing a competent path. No, you didn't make my cut.

  8. Seriously, Alan -- you need to check yourself.

  9. Alan's critique is generally legitimate. However, voters choosing between Weaver and Mara may not be basing there choices on issues such as taxes, corporate influence and other issue of hard substance. So, times its just a matter of comfort or someone they can identify with.

    W Jordan

  10. Even if one agrees that Alan Page's critique is generally legitimate, to me, it says a lot about a man vying for public trust through elected office that he thinks the people he expects to vote for him are unable to "evaluate candidates in any serious way."

  11. VO ran his campaign based on his past public record of service and accomplishments, and against the republican candidate mara. No, the runoff process will cost the city more public dollars and that will not make folks come out and vote.


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