Get Rid of Runoffs
Two qualified candidates for public advocate faced off in a runoff last Tuesday, with Councilmember Letitia James defeating state Senator Daniel Squadron.
The turnout was extremely low — only 187,000 of the party’s 3 million registered Democrats went to the polls.
Meanwhile, the cost of the city’s running the runoff, $13 million, far exceeds the small budget of the Public Advocate’s Office, $2.3 million.
All of which raises the question whether runoffs for citywide offices — except for mayor — should be abolished in favor of so-called “instant runoffs.”
Currently, if no citywide candidate garners 40 percent of the vote in a primary, there is a runoff between the top two finishers.
Basically, the instant runoff is the better option, since it would save the city from having to hold these extremely low-turnout contests, while — importantly — saving millions of dollars.
Under this alternative, voters would rank their top choices, in descending order. If no candidate secured 40 percent, the bottom candidates would be knocked out and their votes allotted to the other candidates proportionally.
As for mayor, the runoff should remain. The period between primary and runoff gives voters (and the media) a closer look at the remaining candidates. That sort of extra vetting is needed for anyone who would be mayor.