Big meeting Tuesday
City Council meets at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the potential November ballot question on IRV, which will direct the May 2011 election. Public input is important. What alternatives will be proposed? Traditional run-offs, winner-take-all, and other forms of preferential voting? (There are several.)
Mayor Ireland has said that multiple choices of election method alternatives should be offered on the November ballot. While that sounds intellectually interesting, we are too close to the November election to begin a proper study of numerous alternative voting methods and have them sufficiently defined for ballot proposals.
Mayor Ireland is proposing a list of alternative methods, where voters can vote for as many as they find acceptable. The method with the most votes wins, assuming it surpasses 50 percent approval. Otherwise, IRV is retained. Much voter education will be needed to overcome the inherent “incumbent” advantage of IRV in that scenario. Voters don’t naturally assume that they can vote for more than one alternative, and may likely, unwittingly split the vote and retain IRV.
A few months ago Councilmen Torre, Romero and Skadron were ready to rid us of IRV, and Councilman Johnson was “on the fence.” I hope that they will not allow this potential ballot question design to give IRV a practical advantage by adding a confusing matrix of choices. Like IRV, the theory is great, but the practical results can be a mess.
There were serious irregularities in the design and execution of IRV last year. Virtually none have been addressed or resolved. As the former Election Commission was attempting to examine some of these irregularities, the City Council abruptly called an end to their term after Jack Johnson peddled false, irrational, trumped-up charges of “secret meetings” and compromised personal agendas. The public needs to ask some hard questions about why the City Council took this egregious action, just before the election issues were to be publicly exposed.
The new Election Commission is attempting to organize to examine these problems. Fortunately, they are accepting e-mails and communications from citizens expressing concerns, just as the previous commission did, before the City Council objected. The new commission is at the same stage the last one was when they were told their terms had expired retroactively. We cannot allow the council to retaliate against the new commission when embarrassing irregularities in our election procedures continue to surface as agenda items.
Whether you favor IRV or more traditional methods, addressing the irregularities has got to be of concern. Tuesday afternoon is your opportunity to have input on the ballot question for November, and express support for the new Election Commission’s work. Please attend or communicate with council by e-mail or letter.
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