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Reform America, Inc.

Reform America in the News

POLITICAL NOTES - Instant runoff elections would provide a majority

EDITOR'S NOTE: Political Notes is a compilation of political news items that appears periodically.

Imagine yourself sequestered in a voting booth, marking a vote for your favorite candidate. Then imagine picking a second choice for the same office.

Some voting activists who want to ensure that a winning candidate receives a majority of votes are promoting an "instant runoff" method of voting for Marylanders.

They've enlisted the support of Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George's, who testified before the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee this week that Maryland needs voting reform.

The issue resonates strongly after the 2000 presidential election's controversial outcome, in which Green Party candidate Ralph Nader played a "spoiler" role, he said.

The current system is problematic because it can result in a winner receiving only a plurality of votes, Mr. Pinsky said.

"It will put someone else in office who doesn't have a majority of votes," he said. "How can (the public) have confidence in the voting?"

The proposed reform would allow voters to rank their candidate choices. If a voter's first choice is eliminated, the second choice is counted until there is a majority vote for the eventual winner.

Thomas Bryer, executive director of Reform America, said the reform would empower voters and increase the legitimacy of the elected leadership in voters' eyes.

However, Sen. Andrew Harris, R-Baltimore County, said questioning the legitimacy of elections or elected officials "opens a can of worms we don't want to get into," he said.

Published 02/22/01, Copyright © 2001 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.

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