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Election Hijinks in Alabama

By Matthew Yglesias on July 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

"Election Hijinks in Alabama"

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Apparently the Alabama Education Association encouraged members to go vote in last week’s Republican gubernatorial primary runoff in order to beat Bradley Byrne. Byrne, in turn, lost which inspired some notions about election reform:

Byrne said there is no question that he was hurt badly by AEA-inspired crossover voting.

“I think it was significant. I can’t give you a number,” he said. “The reports we were getting were that people would get a phone call (from the teachers union) every night for 10 nights.”

Byrne said it is time to consider switching to instant runoff voting, a system that allows voters to rank their preferences. If a voter’s top choice is eliminated, his second choice would be counted. That, Byrne said, would eliminate the need for a costly second round of voting.

I have no idea if AEA-inspired crossovers really made the difference here, but Byrne’s point about the superiority of an IRV system is correct. Unfortunately, the problem with electoral reform is that people tend to focus on the problems with the current system only after they lose an election. The rules, meanwhile, are written by the winners.

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