Instant-runoff voting -- watch Portland, Maine

The system known as Instant-runoff voting, preferential voting or ranked choice voting is a sensible elections reform and is steadily spreading throughout the country.  Basically, the idea is that a voter selects her first choice among candidates and also indicates a second and third choice as well.  An article in the Economist recently described the process of counting ballots:

"...voters select three candidates: first-choice, second and third. If any candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, he wins, as in any other election. But if nobody gets a majority, the candidate who won the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated, and his supporters’ second choices are added to the counts of the other candidates. If there is still no majority winner, another candidate is eliminated, and his ballots are recounted. And so on, until somebody passes 50%."

This system is used around the world in various places, including Ireland, Australia, London, and in the mayor's race in San Francisco.  Sometimes the results are rather surprising.  Candidates who were not among the leading contenders in pre-election speculation and polling have emerged victorious because they pleased a good number of voters as second or third choice.  This is something that could be favorable to progressive candidates trying to challenge the death grip that our worn out, brain dead, and generally feckless Republican and Democratic parties have in the U.S.

An interesting case of this kind seems to be taking shape in the race for Mayor in Portland, Maine.  An interesting alternative candidate, David Marshall, artist and civic activist, very green by reputation, has risen to prominence among a long list of candidates, including conventional mainstay Democratic Party standard bearers.  Here's a slice of Marshall's web page:

For the past five years, I have served you as a City Councilor. My hard work has led to the growth of our creative economy, substantial energy savings, and zoning reforms to increase housing and support our businesses.
Now it is time to bring Portland to the next level. I'm running for Mayor because I love Portland. I possess the vision and experience to  lead Portland further into the 21st Century. Please check out my accomplishments as a Portland City Councilor and my platform to strengthen our economy.  ....
As your Mayor I will 
Invest in our school buildings to make them state-of-the-art learning facilities to prepare our children for the future. 
Grow our population to spread out the tax burden by creating housing near the downtown and in business corridors to attract new families and local businesses. 
Convert our homes and businesses from oil to cleaner fuels to improve our air and save us money. 
Stimulate economic development by investing in a modern streetcar line to grow our tax base. 
Institute a 24-hour pothole guarantee through a professional management program that will make City Hall user-friendly and accountable.

While I'm not a resident of Portland, this is certainly a pitch that would win my vote, especially that  pothole initiative!  During one of Portland's evening "Art Walks" recently, I ran into David outside his studio and asked about his chances, especially in the Instant-runoff system.
"I think our chances are very good," he replied.  "We have good volunteers going door-to-door and a lot of people are interested in voting for me as either first or second choice.  I like to say: "We're Number 1 in the Number 2 business!"

Go David!  

[Note:  One of my sons works for the David Marshall campaign.]