City Council gets it right
August 26, 2010
The City Council properly deleted from the November ballot a referendum question on replacing instant runoff voting (IRV) with a winner-take-all election reform as a means of deciding both mayor and council contests, deciding instead to present to the voters a straightforward choice between IRV and the traditional runoff election technique.
There was scant substantive support for a winner-take-all approach, and the notion expressed by some that it was instructive to test voter preference over several alternatives could not get over the twin hurdles of ballot confusion and the possibility of being left with nothing going forward if no absolute majority was attained.
The mayor’s angst over the result was palpable but the direction of his anger, toward brethren, was misguided. Instead he should have looked in the direction of the office of city counsel, who presented a cumbersome, illogical proposal littered with sloppy drafting and bound together by a rigid legalistic formula.
Suggestions to provide clarity to the voters and direction as to the consequences of their votes on the two questions to be presented were rejected. The death knell was the inability of city counsel to put to rest council member Skadron’s direct inquiry – “I can’t envision when I’m standing in the voting box what I’m seeing on the ballot.” The question posed was not rhetorical – it went to the heart of the issue and nobody seemed to have a clue what the ballot would look like.
The referendum question on winner-take-all was in fact a loser for many reasons and deservedly tossed overboard.
Neil B. Siegel