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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of March 20 - 26, 2002

  News

Ketchum abolishes runoff elections


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Ketchum has held its last runoff election.

The Ketchum City Council Monday unanimously voted to abolish the provision for runoffs that was adopted a year ago, when the city made the controversial move to a designated-seats voting system.

Runoffs were to be held in the event that a candidate did not receive more than 50 percent of the votes cast for a particular seat. The method was an unpopular way to settle a close election between Warm Springs residents Baird Gourlay and Anne Corrock last fall. Gourlay won the runoff.

Public testimony and council member comments were unanimously in favor of repeal.

Mayor Ed Simon backed off of his prior threat to veto the repealing measure. Such an act would have been symbolic anyway, because only a simple majority of council member votes is needed to override a mayorís veto.

"Iíll let it pass without my signature," Simon said.

Now, Ketchum citizens will be asked on an advisory ballot Nov. 5 whether they would prefer an at-large voting system or the runoff-free designated seats system.

The discussion on ridding the city of runoffs, however, was overshadowed Monday by a numbers quandary that is, in ways, a precursor to the pending advisory vote and the debate that is sure to precede it.

Councilman Randy Hall and Sun Valley resident Karen Reinheimer solved an equation computing the cityís percentage of bullet votes differently and debated the issue for the better part of an hour at Mondayís meeting.

Bullet voting, or under voting, occurs when voters cast one vote rather than two, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Theoretically, if bullet votes are cast intentionally, and a bullet vote campaign is organized, it has the power to sway at-large elections, according to political science experts.

But Reinheimer and Hall disagreed on how to calculate the number of bullet votes cast in an election.

"In simple terms, if youíre asking if Iím wrong, Iím not," Hall said.

"Itís wrong. Iím sorry," Reinheimer later said, after Hall had presented his calculations.

Specific calculations aside, the different methods, based on the same base numbers, create vastly different results. Hallís calculations show a relatively high percentage of bullet votes cast in Ketchum elections, about 27 percent in the 1999 election. Reinheimerís calculations show the percentage at more common levels, around 14 percent in 1999.

Hall concluded that the city should not have spent so much time on an issue that was not on the eveningís agenda, and the issue, at least for now, is still unresolved.

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.