I've been asking alot of questions of conservatives lately. I'm sorry if I'm being a bore or a buzzkill but I am often genuinely confused. As they say, one should always know their enemy. Well, enemy mabye is too strong a word but you get what I mean.

I'm interested today to hear from conservatives about Instant Runoff Voting. This has been kicking around in liberal circles for a while now, since Nader went from up-and-comer to spoiler, but I haven't heard any conservatives talk about it. With the debates raging about the "electability" of the current crop of pre-presidential runts the Republican party has managed to put on the table I am interested to see what conservatives have to say on this topic. I predict it will become much more of a bipartisan issue if someone like Bloomberg enters the race and starts sucking away fiscal conservative votes, doing the conservative version of a Nader.

I think we would all agree that the best alternative in a winner-take-all election would be that one of the candidates gets over 50% of the vote. In that case you can genuinely say that the majority of the electorate is behind them. But with more than two candidates on the table this is often not the case. Witness the 2000 elections. It is theorietically possible in a race with three candidates that the winner would win with 33.34% of the votes. That doesn't sound so hot from the standpoint of representative democracy. Four candidates would be worse still.

What about a system that allows ranking of votes, where votes are tallied until one candidate gets 50% of the vote? It sounds awesome to me, regardless of party affiliation. It lets everyone vote for their top choice candidate without worrying about stealing votes from the "electable" candidate. This would allow parties like the Green, Libertarian, Independence and Constitution parties to develop and gain supporters without the "spoiler" label they are now saddled with in close elections. It also means that at least our representatives would be backed by over 50% of the population when the go into office. (What they do with that backing is up to them...erm..ahem...Mr. Bush, what were you thinking?)

IRV still isn't quite as nice as Single Transferable Vote since those small parties don't get proportional representation. Then again, I'm unsure whether we in the US are ready for proportional representation and the compromise that that entails. We would rather beat at each other until the other submits to our arguments. I'm not sure whether the electorate is smart enough to understand STV either, but others may disagree. The city of Cambridge has used STV for years, but with Harvard and MIT within the city limits I'd say they have fulfilled thier intelligence quotient, as it were...(bah dum bump...Ching!)