Abolish Runoff Elections

Jerry H. Goldfeder in The New York Times, October 06, 2013

Media Source

To the Editor:
Re “A Costly Runoff Prompts Calls for Voting Reform” (news article, Sept. 30):

Instant runoff voting would be a good reform. It would save New York City millions of dollars when one of our three citywide candidates fails to garner 40 percent of a primary vote, and dispose of the problem of slow vote counting by the Board of Elections. A better reform, however, would be to abolish runoffs altogether.

New York State has some 10,000 elected officials, from cities, towns, villages and special service districts. Unless Albany is going to extend runoffs for all elections — which is highly doubtful — continuation of a runoff requirement for only three positions is irrational.

Moreover, since the first runoff election in 1973, only twice has the runner-up overtaken the primary winner (Carol Bellamy in 1977 and Mark Green in 2001). In all other cases, including this year’s public advocate race, the first-place finisher went on to win in the second round. A runoff system is hardly worth it.

Rather than a well-intentioned Band-Aid approach, electoral reform should take a broad view. Scrapping this 40-year-old law makes more sense.

JERRY H. GOLDFEDER
New York, Oct. 2, 2013