Dutta, Guatam

Gautam Dutta is Political Reform Deputy Director for the New America Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

Sex, Lies, and Audiotape: Why We Need Instant Runoff Voting

By Gautam Dutta and Amanda Fowler
New America Foundation

When a lawmaker brags about his sexual exploits, taxpayers beware:  it might end up costing us millions of tax dollars.

The trouble began last summer, when then-Assemblymember Mike Duvall (R-Yorba Linda) boasted about his extramarital affairs to a colleague – over a live microphone.  In the outcry that followed, Duvall was forced to resign his Orange County seat – setting the stage for a costly election to replace him.  The total cost of this “special” election?  Nearly $2 million.

Last month, barely one-sixth of voters went to the polls to decide Duvall’s successor.  But even though taxpayers have already shelled out close to $750,000 for this election, the Duvall saga is not yet over.  Instead, because no one received a majority (50 percent plus 1), the race is headed for an equally expensive runoff.