Friday, June 06, 2008

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) races in Pierce County

For more information about the County Executive race, see here.

For more information about the County Assessor-Treasurer race, see here.

Now that filing week is over in Pierce County, we know who is running in each of the races, it appears as if we will have three very interesting RCV elections this November in Pierce County.

The County Executive race has been going on for months now and all four of the known candidates signed up to run this week. There will be one Republican (Shawn Bunney), two Democrats (Calvin Goings and Pat McCarthy) and one Executive Excellence candidate (Mike Lonergan). About the only thing insiders are willing to predict about this race is that no candidate will receive a majority of the first choices, so candidates will have quite the incentive to ask for second and third choices. This will be the largest partisan RCV race in modern US history. The Pierce County voters and elections department will be making history together.

The non-partisan County Assessor-Treasurer race has attracted quite a field of candidates. There are six candidates, all of whom have either held political office before or have run for political office before. Once again, it is unlikely that one candidate will receive over 50% of the first choices, so campaigning for second and third choices is likely to be a big deal. This race is a poster child for why the newspapers and other endorsers should tell voters about their second and third choices.

The partisan County Council seat for District #2 promises to be interesting as well. Joyce McDonald, the Republican, is the best known candidate as she is a sitting State Representative. However, this seat is currently held by Democrat Calvin Goings who is now running for County Executive. Two Democrats (Carolyn Merrival and Al Rose) are angling to fill Calvin's seat. They will have to work together to beat McDonald or else McDonald will win easily.

Pierce County voters will have many choices in November for county level offices and sparse choices at the state level. The contrast will be stark. We believe voters will prefer more choices to just one or two.

The non-partisan County Assessor-Treasurer race in particular will provide a nice example of how non-partisan RCV races could work in Washington. Next year's legislature would do well to watch this race and consider giving local jurisdictions such as cities, port districts and school districts the option to elect their officials using RCV.

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