In March, San Francisco will decide whether to use instant runoff voting to elect city officers in the upcoming November 2002 elections. This is the first major test of the instant runoff voting system in the country. Faced with costs of up to $2 million per election cycle for traditional runoff voting, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10 to 1 to put the issue of instant runoff voting to a referendum. Instant runoff voting would replace traditional runoff elections that are costly, for both candidates and taxpayers, and that require voters to head to the polls twice, causing a massive decline in voter turnout. For example, in the December 2000 runoff election in San Francisco, only 15 percent of voters exercised their right.
In instant runoff voting, voters rank candidates in order of preference, thereby selecting a first choice, second choice, and third choice candidate, or more. The candidate garnering the least amount of votes is discarded. If your first choice were the discarded candidate, then your vote would be attributed to your second choice candidate and all of the votes would be recounted. This process would continue until one clear winner could be identified, ensuring majority rule. According to Rob Richie, Executive Director of the Center for Voting and Democracy, instant runoff voting not only save money but would also help open up the political system to third parties. Under this system, says Richie, one would never feel as though s/he were “wasting one’s vote” as in plurality voting, where winner takes all even if a majority of the people voted against the winning candidate. “Plurality voting not only jeopardizes majority rule, but it typically suppresses non-major party candidacies, who enrich democracy by bolstering voter participation, and invigorating the campaign dialogue,” said Richie.
Across the nation, citizens are just beginning to take notice of instant runoff voting, a system created by an American in 1870 and used in national elections in Australia and Ireland. The League of Women Voters in Vermont is leading a push for all Vermont towns to include a non-binding referendum on instant runoff voting on their March 2002 ballots, and Alaskans will vote on the issue in November 2002.
Media Resources: Center for Voting and Democracy, TomPaine.com, 12/19/01; Rutland Herald, 12/27/01
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .