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September 30, 2004

SF Solves the Nader Problem

San Francisco is implementing a New Instant Runoff System that could be a model for reforms across the country.

The idea is simple: voters rank their candidate preferences in order. If no candidate gets a majority based on the first choice of all voters, the second choice of voters supporting the least popular candidate is added to the totals for the other candidate. If no candidate has a majority yet, repeat with the third choices.

The result fundamentally changes elections:
* Most obviously, people no longer have to vote strategically. They can vote for their favorite candidate without fear of throwing the election to their least favorite.
* Dirty politics becomes more dangerous, since if you piss of the supporters of one candidate, you won't get their second choice votes.
* More voices get to participate in elections without creating divisive competition between communities. Without rancour, allies can compete in the same election, knowing that their supporters can support each other as second choices.

Instant Runoff Voting should be how we run all elections. With it in place, all the bitterness between Nader and Gore supporters would not exist and we would have a much richer national debate with more candidates promoting different views and proposals.

Posted by Nathan at September 30, 2004 08:30 AM