I’ve long favored Instant Runoff Voting — also called Ranked-Choice Voting.

It’s the very simple idea that if you’re ordering a lychee frozen margarita and the waiter says he’s not sure they have lychee today, you say, “well, if they don’t have lychee, I’ll take pineapple.”

Just substitute Ralph Nader for lychee and Al Gore for pineapple.

It’s worth digressing ever so slightly here to tell you that the Iguana at 240 West 54 Street in New York has both lychee and pineapple frozen margaritas, but also cinnamon, and you may come to calibrate your life not just as pre- and post-graduation or pre- and post-marriage but, now, pre- and post- the Iguana cinnamon frozen margarita.  (Equally important: Monday and Tuesday nights, upstairs, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks play Big Band music that is so much fun you won’t be entirely sure whether it’s the music or the margarita that’s left you unable to stop grinning.)

Whether or not you like tequila, naming your first and second choices when you vote has several advantages:

> It invigorates third parties and thus draws more voters into the political process.

> It avoids unintended consequences (did most Nader voters really want to see Bush win?).

> It eliminates the very considerable effort and expense of actual run-off elections.  Not just the taxpayer expense of holding the election or the voter effort of having to go back to the polls — but also the expense and effort of yet more advertising, yet more door knocking.

Maine has Instant Runoff Voting and it worked just fine in a hotly contested House race this month.

Read more about Ranked-Choice Voting / Instant Runoff Voting (again: the two terms are interchangeable) here.

In the race for Georgia governor just now there was a third-party candidate — industrial hemp advocate Ted Metz — but it was not has candidacy, but rather old-South-style voter suppression, that proved determinative.

Stacey Abrams embodies the best of American democracy: integrity, competence, compassion, hard work, and talent.

She was ultimately credited with a hair under 49% of the vote, Kemp a hair over 50%, Metz 1%.

She acknowledged the election was over.

She encouraged Hollywood not to boycott Georgia.

But, in a speech worth reading, she did not concede defeat:

On September 18, thousands of Georgians began casting absentee ballots, determined to lift their voices in the democratic process. A few weeks later, more than two million Georgians voted early. Then, on November 6, more than a million folks arrived in precincts around our beloved state, excited to express their patriotism through the basic, fundamental act of voting.

But this year, our state failed its voters. More than a million citizens found their names stripped from the rolls by the Secretary of State. Tens of thousands hung in limbo, rejected due to human error and a system of suppression that had already proven its bias. The remedy, they were told, was simply to show up – only they, like thousands of others, found polling places shut down, understaffed, ill-equipped or simply unable to serve its basic function for lack of a power cord.

Students drove hours to hometowns to cast votes because mismanagement prevented absentee ballots from arriving on time. Parents stood in the rain in four-hour lines, watching as less fortunate voters had to abandon democracy in favor of keeping their jobs. Eligible voters were refused ballots because poll workers thought they didn’t have enough paper to go around. Ballots were rejected by the handwriting police. Georgia citizens tried to exercise their constitutional rights and were still denied the ability to elect their leaders. Under the watch of the now former Secretary of State, democracy failed Georgians of every political party, every race, every region. Again.

I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election. But to watch an elected official – who claims to represent the people of this state, baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote – has been truly appalling.

To be clear, this is not a speech of concession. Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede. But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.

Now, I could certainly bring a new case to keep this contest alive, but I don’t want to hold public office if I need to scheme my way into the post. Because the title of Governor isn’t nearly as important as our shared title: Voters.

Make no mistake, the former Secretary of State was deliberate and intentional in his actions. I know that eight years of systemic disenfranchisement, disinvestment and incompetence had its desired effect on the electoral process in Georgia. And as I have for more than twenty years, I will stand with my fellow Georgians in pursuit of fairness. Only now, I do so as a private citizen, ready to continue to defend those whose choices were denied their full expression.

Today, I announce the launch of Fair Fight Georgia, an operation that will pursue accountability in Georgia’s elections and integrity in the process of maintaining our voting rolls. In the coming days, we will be filing a major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions.

We will channel the work of the past several weeks into a strong legal demand for reform of our elections system in Georgia. And I will not waver in my commitment to work across party lines and across divisions to find a common purpose in protecting our democracy. For a state that elects Democrats and Republicans and Independents. That elects leaders who will not tolerate an erosion of our values.

Fair Fight Georgia. Because these votes are our voices. We are each entitled to our choices. And we have always, Georgia, been at the forefront of speaking truth to whatever power may lay claim to leadership – if only for the moment. We will win because we are Georgia.

And we will get it done.



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