Allow instant-runoff voting in Iowa elections

Jim Paprocki makes a strong case for instant-runoff voting in Saturday’s Des Moines Register:

Instant runoff voting is a winner-take-all system that, in only one election, ensures a winning candidate receives a majority of votes. This voting reform also is cost-effective because it eliminates the need for a separate runoff.

Instant runoff is consistent with Iowa’s caucus tradition. The Democratic Party caucuses allow participants to support their second-choice candidate when their first-choice candidate is no longer viable.

In instant runoff voting, each voter has an opportunity to make a second choice and third choice among candidates running in the election. If none of the candidates wins a majority, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated. The ballots of the voters who ranked that candidate as their first-choice are then redistributed to their second-choice candidate. The counting of ballots simulates a series of runoff elections. This process continues until one candidate receives a majority of all votes.

Although instant runoff voting may appear more complicated than our current voting system, it really is no different from stating a preference for A, B and C in the voting booth. Research shows that voters favor instant runoff voting and find it to be user-friendly.

Instant-runoff voting prevents longshot primary candidates or third-party general-election candidates from being “spoilers.” Voters can express their preference for the candidate who speaks for them and put the “lesser of two evils” down as a second choice.

Paprocki notes that the Iowa Code currently prohibits cities from introducing instant-runoff voting, so legislative action would be required to make this happen.

This may not be high on legislators’ priority lists, but considering the budget crunch affecting government at all levels, it would be wise to enact election reform that saves money while reflecting the will of the people.

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