Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DC needs instant runoff voting.

So Anita Bonds won the at-large council election with a whopping 32% of the vote. To me, that's a problem: somebody wins an election with less than one third of the total votes cast -- or to put it another way, 68% of voters prefer her opponents.

DC should have instant runoff voting for elections like these.

What's that? Here's how Wikipedia describes it:
It is a form of preferential voting (or ranked choice voting) in which voters rank the candidates in order of preference rather than simply selecting a single candidate. 
Ballots are initially distributed based on each voter's first preference. If a candidate secures more than half of votes cast, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Ballots assigned to eliminated candidates are recounted and assigned to one of the remaining candidates based on the next preference on each ballot. This process continues until one candidate wins by obtaining more than half the votes.
So basically, more people will get a candidate they actually like. It also means you don't need to worry about "electability," which I heard a lot talking to people about this election -- people telling me they like Frumin or Zukerberg or Mara but don't think he can win, so they voted for Silverman or Mara so that Bonds wouldn't win. The Washington Post made the same argument last year during the at-large race, which had the same issue of multiple candidates. I would assume that if this system were in place for these last two elections, the results would have been very different.

The system might sound a little wacky, but it's done all over the world, including in Oakland, Portland, Maine, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

I think it's time. Write your councilmembers about it! (And personally, I would have put Fred Rubble as my #1 preference.)


  1. Absolutely. Or at least go to something like Texas has where the top two compete in a run-off later (though I prefer the instant run-off option).

    This would have prevented Jesse Ventura from winning the Govenorship in Minnesota a while ago as well.

  2. Yes, we need this! Let's get it on the ballet!

  3. This is the outcome of multi-candidate races... the votes are split with an unexpected win. But, I think your argument is flawed since the procedure should be established prior to the election (and not retrospectively).

    Frankly, Anita Bonds sucks but she knows it and we'll see if she proves herself a flop or a success.


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