2006 Primary observations, part 2: IRV, etc.


In the race to replace Judge David Peterson, candidate David Blades chose not to seek a recount. He finished third of three-candidates by only 51 votes out of 11,000 cast. Collinsville Municipal Judge Jim Caputo finished second, making the runoff with Special District Judge Daman Cantrell. Because this is a non-partisan race, the "runoff" will be at the November general election. This is also one of five district judgeships elected by a portion of Tulsa County -- the electoral division for this seat covers the north Tulsa County suburbs and the City of Tulsa roughly east of Sheridan.

There will be a recount in the Republican primary for House District 6, an open seat that covers Craig County and parts of Mayes and Rogers Counties. Wayland Smalley, the Republican nominee for the 2nd Congressional District in 2004, won his primary by five votes out of about 1,500 cast. Whoever prevails will have an uphill battle -- 4,700 Democrats voted in their primary for the seat.

Oklahoma has a history of voting for candidates with famous names, but I doubt that Owasso and Catoosa Democrats had Ché in mind when they voted for Wayne Guevara, who finished first in the Democratic House District 74 primary. Guevara is an Owasso City Councilor, works for the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, and is a paralegal specialist with the National Guard. The Owasso Reporter reports that Guevara will be out of the state for the runoff with Carl Weston of Catoosa; he's being deployed for three weeks with his National Guard unit to New Mexico.

There were a number of primary races where the outcome might have been different if Instant Runoff Voting were in use. Oklahoma's runoff system, rematching the top two candidates if no one gets a majority, works well with only three candidates, but it can break down when there are four or more candidates. If the fourth- or fifth-place candidate hadn't been in the race, it might have changed the order of finish between the first three candidates, and a different pair of candidates would have made the runoff. The 1991 Louisiana governor's race is a classic example of the problem -- incumbent Buddy Roemer might have made the runoff instead of ex-Klansman David Duke or ex-con Edwin Edwards.

Ideally, you'd have a series of runoffs, each round eliminating one candidate until a candidate has a majority of the vote. IRV does that with a single election, by having voters rank the candidates in order of preference, rather than mark a single candidate.

Instant Runoff Voting might have produced a different result in Democratic primaries for Lt. Governor, House District 15, and DA District 17. The primary for House 99 had five candidates and will be going to an August runoff, but IRV wouldn't have changed the outcome, because the combined votes of the third-, fourth-, and fifth-place candidates were less than the second-place candidate.

On the Republican side, the race most likely to have been affected by IRV was in House District 41, where only 101 votes separated the second- and third-place finishers, and fourth and fifth place had 700 votes between them. Theoretically, IRV might have changed the result in the race for the 5th Congressional District and in House District 69, but in both cases there was a much bigger gap between second and third places.

Three judicial races might have had a different outcome with IRV, Judicial District 14 Office 10 (the six-candidate Tulsa County race to replace Gregory Frizzell), and the elections for Associate District Judge in McClain and Choctaw Counties.

An advantage of IRV is that you don't have to have a separate runoff election. The disadvantage of IRV to a candidate is that you wouldn't get that extra month to make your case to the voters, who would no longer be distracted by the large number of candidates in your race and the large number of races on the ballot.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 1, 2006 7:30 PM.

Castro death watch was the previous entry in this blog.

Huey's Shoes and the news is the next entry in this blog.

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