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"We've seen elections where the person who gets the most choices doesn't end up winning," and that's exactly the problem, [Rob Richie] says. In fact, IRV's ability to make more room for third-party candidates is the best thing about the system, he says."The fundamental transformational aspect of instant runoff voting is that it completely changes the dynamic of what it means to try to have multi-party politics," Richie says."It means that when you have small parties and independents who are . . . bucking the status quo, they can be considered for what they're saying and be a part of the debate."That's what's happening in Oakland this year, as the city's mayoral and city council elections employ IRV for the first time. The race for mayor is hotly contested, with former State Senator Don Perata and City Councilwomen Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan leading a pack of 13 candidates. But old electoral habits die hard: Even though the IRV system will take effect there in November- which in theory should allow a wider field of candidates and thus more debate - the Sierra Club and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights stirred up controversy this summer by calling Perata, Quan and Kaplan the races only "viable" candidates and inviting only the trio to debate environmental issues.
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"Instant Election Reform"Please download to view full document