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Thumbs-up for second choices

September 28, 2008

Re " 'Instant runoff' voting sought," Sept. 24

"Instant runoff" voting (IRV) does more than save taxpayer dollars and increase voter participation. By allowing voters to rank their first, second and third choices, it frees people to vote for the candidates they actually like, not just the lesser of two evils.

The spoiler effect was present in the 1992 and 2000 presidential elections, when third-party candidates took votes from George H.W. Bush and Al Gore, respectively. With IRV, voters won't have to worry about harming their second-choice candidate, because their second choice will be counted if their first choice is eliminated.

IRV allows people to vote with their conscience, not just the majority. It also encourages more positive campaigning by candidates who want to be the second choice of other candidates' supporters. It's an important way to end wedge politics and negative campaigning. We've seen positive results in other major cities.

In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, voters should be able to vote for their favorite candidates. IRV creates an environment that gives a real voice to every voter.

Kathay Feng

Los Angeles

The writer is the executive director of California Common Cause.

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