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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 17 - 23, 2002


Stop the spin

Ketchum reminds us of a dog that refuses to stop chasing its tail.

The Ketchum City Council is wearing itself out arguing over which is better, a winners-take-all system in which top vote getters in an unlimited field of candidates net two available council seats in each election. Or, a system in which candidates must designate the seat for which they run.

Two different councils have spouted high-minded rhetoric for more than a year. The answer to which system is better? Neither.

If the council could quit spinning around in oldthink long enough to think new thoughts, it would learn that in March San Francisco voters approved a system called instant runoff voting.

When they ballot, San Franciscans will rank candidates in order of preference—first, second, third and so on. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent, the last place finisher is dropped. Then the second-place rankings from those ballots are distributed, and so on and so forth, until one candidate accumulates a majority.

Think any idea emanating from the City by the Bay might be just a little too liberal or a little too radical for a county smack in the center of Idaho? It’s worth noting that Utah’s Republican Party—hardly a hotbed of radical thought—will use instant runoff voting in May at its convention to nominate candidates for the primary election. The system will help sort out the 40 candidates who are running for three congressional seats.

It’s true the system would eliminate a lot of the political entertainment involved in races with lots of candidates. Odds-making on which candidates will split strong voting blocks and open the door to a surprise winner will disappear. Backroom deals in which one candidate pressures another to drop from a race to ensure victory will be unnecessary.

Instant runoff voting could stop the tail-chasing—unless, of course, the council likes the spin.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.