To the editor:
It does not surprise me that Halsey Frank, as the former chairman of the Republican City Committee, would be warning of the dangers of instant runoff voting. He offered an unlikely example of how IRV might lead to distorting the will of the voters in an extremely close election.
A far better question to ponder is this: What if the nation, or even just Florida, had used IRV for the 2000 presidential election? While IRV would not solve the problem of the Electoral College, electoral results in some states, including Florida, might well have been different had 80 percent of those voting for Ralph Nader been able to list Gore as their second choice.
Frank worries about how confusing IRV might make voting. In Maine we are used to highly counter-intuitive referendum measures on the ballot … vote “No” if you favor gay marriage being only the latest example.
Current election practices are biased toward incumbency. The two major parties are virtually required to pander to their base, which increasingly means the hard-core ideologues within each party. An IRV system would do much to encourage alternative parties and independent candidates. If using IRV to select the mayor means that a Green Independent becomes mayor, rather than being shut out due to inertia and old style partisan politics, I say that it would be a plus all the way around.