Proposed New Voting Method in Dover Promises Better Elections - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Oren Lieberman

Proposed New Voting Method in Dover Promises Better Elections

(Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)

04/20/2006 11:59 PM EST

DOVER - Americans are used to picking just one candidate in the voting booth, but suppose you were able to throw your support behind several candidates in the same race? It is a proposal the city of Dover is considering.  It is a voting method that some say is effective, and others say is down-right confusing.

Imagine you have three candidates running for mayor. We willl call them candidates A, B and C. You then rank your picks and cast your ballot.  If one candidate gets a majority of the vote - more than 50 percent- the election is over. But if the votes are tallied and no candidate has a majority, this new system, called instant runoff voting, kicks in.

So let us say candidate A has 45 percent of the votes, B has 35 percent of the votes, and C has 20 percent. The candidate in last place- in this case, candidate C - is eliminated from the race. The voters who picked candidate C as their first pick now switch to their second pick. So if all of those voters picked candidate B as their number two pick, those votes transfer to B. Now candidate B has 55 percent of the votes and A has 45 percent. With the majority of the votes, candidate B wins the election.

Rob Richie from the Center for Voting and Democracy presented the plan to Dover on Thursday night. He said it promises a fair election and is easy for voters.

"From a voters' perspective , they don't have to do that much more, they just need to write their candidates one, two, three," Richie said.  

But skeptics worry the system will take time and money to set up and they also say it is still too confusing.

Gerry Foss of the Dover Board of Elections said, "Having to assign a priority or a number to any one person makes for it a little complicated for them."

Members of the Dover City Council who attended the meeting said they would approve the new election system if the city considers it.

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