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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Outcome Depends on Turnout, Not Polls

October 05, 2003

Peter King warns us that we'd better get used to the sound of "Gov. Schwarzenegger" (Commentary, Oct. 1). But even the depressing recent Times poll does not make Arnold's election a foregone conclusion -- it is still the votes on election day that really matter. So, all you self-respecting Democrats out there -- dig out your sample ballots right now, figure out where your polling place is and schedule a time to vote on Tuesday.

Turning out in droves to vote no on the recall can still save us from being stuck with a governor who's nothing more than a misogynist celebrity neophyte who thinks the definition of "special interests" begins and ends with "public employee union," without including the oil and timber interests and Hummer makers who are the true 21st century parallels of Hiram Johnson's Southern Pacific Railroad opponents. Unlike December 2000, there won't be the Supreme Court to blame if we hand the state to the Republicans by failing to vote. We'll only be able to blame ourselves.

Julie Heath Elliott

Los Angeles

With voters, the parties and the candidates struggling to balance the competing interests of idealism and pragmatism, the Legislature should push for and adopt an instant-runoff voting election system immediately. In an instant-runoff system, voters can rank their favorite candidates. Supporters of McClintock would be free to vote with their hearts while knowing that their votes would be transferred to their second or third choice if their candidate failed to achieve a majority of support -- until one candidate has garnered a majority of votes.

Instant-runoff voting ensures that the winning candidate is supported by a majority of voters rather than a simple plurality. In addition, voters could clearly signal where their true support lies without feeling like they are "throwing their votes away." It would also provide candidates a clearer mandate for action. San Francisco approved this system for municipal elections. The state should do the same. While we're at it, campaign contribution limits of $100 during the signature-gathering and get-out-the-vote phases of the recall would go a long way toward rebuilding faith in California's electoral system.

Wendy Wendlandt

Associate Director

California Public Interest

Research Group, Los Angeles

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