Votes weren’t wasted | AspenTimes.com

Votes weren’t wasted

Dear Editor:

Marilyn Marks lost her mayoral election to Mick Ireland. It was close, but Mick won a clear majority of the vote in the final runoff round. Marilyn raised more money than any candidate in Aspen history, so perhaps she would have liked to campaign for another six weeks for a one-on-one runoff featuring a lot of attacks. But I think most of us were ready to have our mayor and City Council focus on facing Aspen’s significant challenges, especially during these recessionary times.

This leads into Marks’ Oct. 26 letter to The Aspen Times in which she suggests that counting instant runoff voting ballots is complex. It’s not. Take the mayor’s race. Neither Ireland nor Marks won a majority of the vote in the first round. So the two weaker candidates were knocked out, just as they would have been with a runoff. Ballots cast for the losing candidates were then added to the totals of Marks or Ireland based on whichever candidate was ranked next.

In other words, the winner in the final round between Ireland and Marks was the candidate who was ranked ahead of the other finalist on most ballots. That’s all there is to it.

Marks also suggests that instant runoff voting majorities are different than runoff election majorities, but that’s not true. In both a runoff and an instant runoff, the majority winner is the candidate who gets more votes in the final round. Just as voters have the right to sit out a runoff (and often do, as runoffs usually have lower turnout), they have the right to skip ranking some candidates in an instant runoff. Those aren’t “wasted votes” – they are abstentions.

David C. Richie

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