Adventures In First Past The Post Voting

I wrote on Monday that I was torn between voting for Patrick Mara and voting for Bryan Weaver in yesterday’s DC City Council at-large race, but that what I basically wanted to do was vote for either of those guys over Vincent Orange. And in discussion after discussion of people with similar values to mine, that was the debate—shake things up with Mara the moderate Republican or go with Weaver the smart progressive reformer, but most of all let’s not end up with Vincent Orange. I also thought Josh Lopez seemed like he’d be a good councilman but just didn’t have the support. And now that the votes are in everything’s coming up Orange:

Orange claimed just over 28 percent of all votes cast, with Mara coming in at close to 26 percent. Sekou Biddle, who was appointed to the seat by the D.C. Democratic State Committee in January, ran third with 20 percent, Bryan Weaver had 13 percent, and Josh Lopez seven percent. Turnout only slightly exceeded 12 percent.

There’s not perfect way to run elections, but this particular way—lots of candidates in a first past the post race—is surely the worst of the lot. It’s possible that Orange is the second choice of an overwhelming number of Sekou Biddle supporters and thus that he would have won anyway in a IRV/AV election or an actual runoff. But we’ll never really know. And we ought to know! There’s no reason the fact that someone is the first choice of 28 percent of the voters should close the books on the question of who gets the job.