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05 December 2008

To Run-off Or Not To Run-off. . .

. . . That is the question being debated on editorial pages of the Atlanta Journal Constitution today with Mike King arguing that the state law mandating run-off elections is absurd and state Rep. Mark Hatfield (R - Waycross) declaring that the "current Republican majority in the General Assembly should be very reluctant to move Georgia back into the realm of election by the plurality" [Sources: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Georgia’s runoff law has run voters ragged", December 5, 2008; Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Majority vote puts electorate in charge", December 5, 2008].

On this issue, there is sure to be a lot of debate as both sides present their points for and against "fifty plus one." However, the one point that continues to make me come down on the side of the argument supporting run-offs is that without the fifty plus one rule, Victor Hill would still be the Sheriff of Clayton County; and Cynthia McKinney would still be a member of Congress from the 4th district.

Both Hill and McKinney won a plurality of the vote in their races. Hill won 49% of the vote. McKinney won 47%. Since their vote totals represented more than 45% of the vote, under the old rules, they both would have been declared the winners of their respective races.

I'm not so sure we want to go back to the days where inept and ineffective elected officials could remain in office with just 45% of the vote.

One more thing, the Gainesville Times has weighed in on this subject as well saying that the high costs and low voter turnout are reasons why Georgia should end run-off elections [Source: Gainesville Times, "Our Views: High cost, low turnout should end Georgia runoffs", December 5, 2008].