DuBos: Time to change how at-large races are decided

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 1, 2012 at 6:48 PM

The New Orleans City Council could decide this Thursday to advance a proposed change in the way at-large council members are elected. That’s the topic of this week’s commentary by Eyewitness News Political Analyst and Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos.

Clancy DuBos / Eyewitness News Political Analyst

Many people want to change the way New Orleans elects at-large council members. At present, at-large candidates all run for the same two seats, in what amounts to a political free-for-all.

In the primary, voters can vote for two candidates. To win in the primary, candidates must get more than 25 percent of vote. But voters don’t have to vote for two candidates. In fact, some candidates encourage voting only for themselves, or “single-shooting.” It gives them a marginal advantage, at least in theory.

At best, the present system is complicated — and it requires a lot of math. That’s why many folks want to see candidates run for one seat or the other — as they do in other parishes, where winners must get a real majority.

This Thursday, the council has a chance to put that idea on the November ballot, as an amendment to the city charter.

Some say the proposal would make it easier to elect one white and one black at-large council member. I think the best argument for change has nothing to do with race. It’s really about common sense and simpler math.

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