The nominating convention rules adopted by the Ward 1 Democratic Committee Sunday are another troubling signal that the endorsement, a legal mechanism for putting a party-backed nominee on the ballot in September’s party primary, may undermine the democratic process the committee purports to uphold. The 50-member committee passed a provision eliminating the option of a runoff when members gather to endorse a nominee by secret ballot to replace Alderman Julio Gonzalez ’99 in just four days.
That decision flies in the face of basic electoral logic. Elections with more than two candidates require either a plurality or a runoff — which progressively eliminates candidates — to reach a simple majority. With four strong aldermanic hopefuls facing off this Sunday for the committee’s coveted nomination, members will likely fail to reach a majority consensus in their initial vote. Revoting until a single winner emerges unwisely makes the endorsement vote susceptible to the influence of vocal committee members. In the event of deadlock, fatigue and frustration are likely to force voters to compromise principle for practicality; indeed, members might be pressured to reveal and change their vote to produce an eventual winner.
A runoff, on the other hand, would force committee members to objectively measure the most popular candidates against each other in multiple votes until a winner emerges.
Before the nominating convention begins Sunday, a runoff option should be reinstated to insure a fair endorsement process that tests the candidates, not the endurance of committee members.