Instant Runoff Election: Pick the Bridesmaid
Hm. I’m not sure what I think about this idea of a an instant runoff election, yet.
In an instant-runoff election voters will rank candidates by preference. If in the election no candidate wins a majority the last place candidate is eliminated and the second choice pick of voters who selected that candidate counts. The process continues until one candidate receives a majority of votes.
The process is designed so that voters do not feel like their vote does not count or that they are wasting their vote if they select an unlikely candidate.
If Rhode Island had run-off elections in place during the governor’s race in 2010 it is possible the election would have had a different outcome. Moderate candidate Ken Block, who received 6.5% of the vote would have been the first to be eliminated spreading his votes between Independent Lincoln Chafee, Democrat Frank Caprio, and Republican John Robitaille. Caprio who received 23% of the vote would likely have been eliminated next. Those votes would be divided between Chafee and Robitaille, which would have provided one of them with a majority of the vote.
After the 2010 election in which Governor Lincoln Chafee won with 36% of the vote to Robitaille’s 33% the General Assembly voted to establish the commission. The commission is expected to report its findings next year.
On the face of it, ensuring that whomever wins a particular elected office actually does so by winning the majority of all votes cast–sorta–is probably better than, say, having a Governor win with around 36% of the vote. Then again, this could also give the (eventual) winner the misconception that they won with some sort of mandate when they were actually the second choice of the people that actually put them over the top. And that leads to the biggest problem. It’s entirely conceivable that the person listed as everyone’s second choice could end up being governor. Maybe this should be called Bridesmaid Runoff Reform.