| P.J. Hill | Anchorage Daily News, Opinion |

In 2003, Mark Begich ran against incumbent George Wuerch and won the election with 45.03% of the vote. Therefore, 55% of the voters preferred another candidate. When such a large majority prefers an alternative, it puts the election process in question. Additionally, 45% is an arbitrary number. Why not 44%, 40% or 39%? Majority rule means that no other candidate could garner more votes — majority rule is a central tenet of democracy.

In retrospect, there was most likely no spoiler effect in our most recent mayoral election, but it cannot be known for certain without knowing everyone’s second and lower rankings. The election is over and our new mayor is Suzanne LaFrance. Had none of the lower-ranked candidates thrown their hat into the ring we might have been saved the runoff, but there is no way of limiting the field and encouraging participation in the electoral process. Declaring a winner with less than a majority of the votes is certainly an undemocratic solution.

Anything less than majority rule is arbitrary

One of the interesting attributes of RCV is that any number of people could run for office without creating a spoiler effect. People could run for office and broach their ideas about the public sector to the voters — a real participatory democracy. Politics is a natural forum in the marketplace for public policy ideas.

As it stands now, unless a single candidate in the general election garners 45% of the vote for mayor there will be a runoff election between the two top vote winners. A runoff election is costly and is a completely unnecessary expense, given RCV. It must be remembered that a runoff between the top two candidates in no way guarantees that the winning candidate would win in a two-way race with any of the other candidates. Anything less than majority rule is arbitrary and not in the interest of a democracy, as that should be the goal.

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