Alabama needs instant-runoff voting
Alec Slatky begins his op-ed in the Birmingham News: The contentious Republican runoff for governor between Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley has many Alabama political leaders thinking about possible reforms to the election process. Wary of an influx of Democratic voters who might decide the nomination contrarily to the preferences of the Republican Party and its members, GOP officials considered instituting a cross-over rule -- the Alabama Democratic Party already has one -- that would ban anyone who voted on a Democratic ballot in the primary from opting for a Republican ballot in the runoff.
The timing was too close for any changes to be made, and Bentley ended up winning by a 56-44 percent margin. But one potential reform for future primaries could resolve many problems with the status quo: instant runoff voting.
Instant runoff voting is designed to simulate a runoff election, but without the drawbacks of runoffs: low voter turnout, high cost to taxpayers, negative campaigning and potential for the lack of a crossover rule to lead to unrepresentative party nominees. It's been adopted to replace two rounds of voting in such cities as Oakland, Minneapolis and Memphis; has a long record of use in elections in dozens of major associations; and is used for overseas voters in Arkansas, Louisiana and South Carolina.
Voters rank candidates in order of preference, and if no candidate reaches the required threshold -- 50 percent in Alabama -- the top two candidates advance to a runoff, which can be held instantly. Ballots cast for the eliminated candidates are added to the totals of the runoff candidates based on whichever runoff candidate is ranked next on the ballot. That's it -- no need for a second election. Read the whole piece --> MY VIEW: True voting reform tops crossover rule | al.com