A bet­ter way to elect mayor

The Beaufort Gazette - - Opinion -

Vot­ers on Hil­ton Head Is­land have just ex­pe­ri­enced their third straight may­oral runoff vote. Usu­ally, this oc­curs just be­fore Thanks­giv­ing, when many res­i­dents are away. Voter turnout for the runoff this year was about half that of the Nov. 6 elec­tion day.

There is a bet­ter way, which elim­i­nates the need for a runoff. It’s called “ranked-choice vot­ing,” and is in place in a num­ber of lo­ca­tions in this coun­try. It re­quires that vot­ers ex­press not only their first choice, but their sec­ond and sub­se­quent choices as well. If a voter’s first choice is un­suc­cess­ful, it is as­signed to his or her sec­ond choice, and so on un­til a can­di­date reaches a ma­jor­ity.

For ex­am­ple, suppose there are four can­di­dates in a race. Af­ter the first vote count, the re­sults are as fol­lows: Can­di­date A, 35 per­cent; Can­di­date B, 30 per­cent; Can­di­date C, 25 per­cent; Can­di­date D, 10 per­cent.

Un­der ranked-choice vot­ing, Can­di­date D’s votes would be re­al­lo­cated to the vot­ers’ sec­ond choices. In this sit­u­a­tion, that would not be math­e­mat­i­cally enough to give any can­di­date over 50 per­cent of the vote, so the process would be re­peated with Can­di­date C’s votes, which would like­wise be re­al­lo­cated to their sec­ond choices. That should be ad­e­quate to give Can­di­date A or B more than 50 per­cent.

This would elim­i­nate the need for an­other two weeks of cam­paign­ing, as well as the cost of hold­ing the sec­ond elec­tion. Most im­por­tantly, it could re­sult in record­ing the in­put of al­most twice as many vot­ers.

See: www.fair­vote.org.

– Steve Al­fred Hil­ton Head Is­land

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