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GOP duo to push for runoff elections

December 28, 2010

Coming after Governor Carcieri and some other Republicans’ displeasure about Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee’s 36 percent victory, state representatives-elect Mike Chippendale and Patricia Morgan are calling for a constitutional amendment requiring run-off elections when a candidate receives less than 50 percent of the vote.

The move comes in response to voter disapproval of two of the five races for General Offices in the 2010 General Election where the winner did not receive the approval of a majority of the voters, according to Mike Chippendale, a first-term Republican.

“I’ve had a multitude of constituents – as well as people from outside of my district, really focusing on the fact that the governor’s race was a seven way race that was won with only 36% of the vote. That means 64% of the voting electorate is not being represented by that office. That’s substantial.” states Chippendale.

Representative Morgan adds, “We now have an established third party in Rhode Island, and if that party remains active, we can see more and more races being won by candidates that don’t have the support of the majority of the voters. This year there were 12 races in Rhode Island won with less than 50% of the vote. I fear this is an issue that will only grow over the next
several election cycles. Ultimately we’ll see more disenfranchised voters which will contribute to the existing problem of voter apathy and mistrust of the government.”

A run-off election is a mechanism currently being used in seven U.S. states, and being implemented in four more. If an election for a specific office has more than 2 candidates and none of them garner more than 50% support, an automatic second election is held for the top two vote-getters. The winner must receive at least 50% of the votes.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Malachi Constant permalink
    December 28, 2010 9:11 pm

    YES!!!!!

    Talk about killing off the far right of the Republican Party forever!!!!! Keep pushing this idea kids.

  2. December 29, 2010 1:02 am

    All of the people complaining about this low, winning percentage knew of this possibility before the election. Complaining only after losing the election is just poor politics.
    The candidate with the most votes wins. We were agreed.
    And: races with several candidates are a sign of political freedom. The possibility of low, winning percentages come with that freedom.
    Chafee won, fair and square.

  3. Joseph Ferreira permalink
    December 29, 2010 2:12 pm

    Given the fact that Abraham Lincoln won a four-way race with just 39% of the total popular vote in 1860, I don’t see where these cooperating individuals have a legal or even political leg to stand upon. Lincoln did just fine with his plurality and he faced far, far worse than a self-induced economic melt-down.

    Chippendale & Morgan see those who voted for Ken Block as potential swing votes to John Robitaille which would have just put him just past Chafee with 40.1% of the vote but still left him short. This would have left Caprio supporters (23%) splitting their votes between Chafee and Robitaille with the bulk more likely going to Chafee than Robitaille, thus leaving their chosen candidate still second in the vote count.

    As many others will likely be thinking, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Meddling with the constitution can only open it up to other, more insidious changes (like a DOMA-style amendment) that would deny rather than extend rights to citizens. Let’s treat this as the sour-grapes proposal it is and ignore it.

  4. Matt Ulricksen permalink
    December 29, 2010 2:57 pm

    An instant runoff model based on preferential voting would make the most sense. If Rhode Island is entering a multi-party/multi-candidate era, then allow voters to rank-order their candidate preferences. If no candidate receives a majority of first-preference votes, then eliminate the candidate with the lowest tally and re-allocate second preference votes until a candidate wins a majority. This would save the time and expense of a run-off election.

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