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Utilitarianism, ctd.

by Paul Fidalgo // Published August 18, 2009
A couple posts ago, I showed you an example of IRV's raw practicality, as it eliminated the need for a needlessly redundant, low-turnout runoff election in which the outcome was for all intents and purposes foreknown. Kelly Haughton in the News Tribune gives another fine example of IRV's pragmatic appeal: Big bucks saved in tiny races (here it's known as ranked choice voting, or RCV, as they call it in Washington State).
Today I will sit down with my ballot for the Tuesday primary. It has a single race on it, for Port of Tacoma commissioner.

The only function of my vote is to eliminate one of the three candidates so that voters will have only two candidates on their ballots in November.

More than 130,000 voters around the county are in the same position. Most of them are likely to decide this is not worth the effort or the stamp. . . .

. . . What would happen if the port commissioners were elected with RCV? There would have been no August primary for the port. No ballots would have been sent to those 130,000 voters. The Elections Department would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on printing and mailing. It would not have to open polls for these precincts.

Who will pay for this additional expense? The Port of Tacoma will receive a bill for more than $300,000 to eliminate just one candidate.

That's right, for a small election, 300 G's would be saved if RCV were being used. That is not chump change, particularly in economic times like these. As the battle to keep RCV in Pierce County heats up, it's a good thing to keep in mind.