Former President Barack Obama raises his hand with Stacey Abrams and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock at a campaign event on October 28, 2022 in Georgia. Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Joshua Holzer, Westminster College

In the US, all elections are held by states. But not all states use the same rules.

Georgia uses a version second round of voting, which involves two rounds of voting. Generally, if a candidate receives more than 50% of the votes in the first round, that candidate is declared the winner. Otherwise, the two candidates who received the most votes in the first round will meet in the second round of voting.

Historically, there has been concern that such a runoff system puts black candidates at a disadvantage. Former Assistant US Attorney General John R. Dunn He once claimed that Georgia’s second-ballot system had “an apparently staggering effect on the ability of Negroes to become candidates for public office.”

representative of the United States James E. Clyburn South Carolina similarly claims that runoff voting “deliberately diluted the black vote” and successfully “prevented black candidates from reaching elected office.”

However, on December 6, 2022, Georgians will vote in the second round of elections between the incumbent president from the Democratic Party Raphael Warnock and the Republican Party challenger Herschel Walker – both African American.

So, the second round of voting racist? Or is it not?

Community members vote in Atlanta on November 8, 2022. Megan Varner/Getty Images

A brief history of the second round of voting in Georgia

U 1917 yearGeorgia adopted the “District System,” which was the voting method that worked similarly to how the US Electoral College works.

For the presidential electionseach state is allocated a number of electoral votes based on the size of its congressional delegation, which in turn is based in part on its population. Therefore, more populous states have more electoral votes than less populous states.

Similarly under County system of Georgia, more populous districts were allocated more votes in statewide elections than less populous districts. Each district’s votes were then awarded to whoever won that particular district.

The Electoral College gives proportionally more power to less populated states. Similarly, the system of district units sparsely populated counties were preferredwhile more populous counties were underrepresented.

It was special detrimental to the influence of African American voterswho largely lived in more densely populated urban counties.

U 1963 yearThe U.S. Supreme Court declared the districting system unconstitutional because it violated the standard “one person, one voice.”

In response, Georgian lawmakers began looking for a new electoral system that could similarly, but legally, suppress the African American vote. Later that year, Denmark Gruvera a member Georgia House of Representatives, proposed the adoption of a second round of voting as it would “re-instate the protections which … have been eliminated with the death of the district unit system”.

The most common voting system used in the United States plural voting, in which the winner of the election is the candidate who received the largest number of votes. A potential disadvantage of this system is that if there are many candidates running for the same office and the vote is split in several directions, the candidate with the most votes may have a relatively low percentage of the total vote, winning by a majority rather than a majority.

Fear of many white Georgians was that if the election was left by a majority vote, the white vote could be split between several different candidates. If all African-Americans vote for a black candidate, that person may end up winning the election with the most votes overall, even if their winning percentage was relatively low.

To prevent this, Grover and his allies sought the adoption of the second round of voting as an opportunity to “prevent the Negro bloc from controlling the election.”

U 1964 yearGeorgia lawmakers accepted Gruver’s proposal.

The second vote is popular all over the world

Second voting has been around for a while and has been used in a variety of contexts. Germany began experimenting with this type of voting in the late 1800s, after which it spread to Norway in 1906 and later France in 1928. Second vote was later adopted several former French colonies after their independence. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, several newly independent countries decided to adopt this system.

Today, the second round of voting is used in more than 40 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and America.

Besides Georgia, several other US states also use runoff voting in some capacity, including Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Vermont.

The upper two primary used in California, Nebraska, and Washington, as well as Louisiana the so-calledthe jungle is primeval“, are also options for the second round of voting.

Alaska, Maine and several cities across the country have recently adopted ranked choice voting. This system is sometimes called “instant second vote” because it can also be seen as a kind of second round of voting.

How a scientist voting systems, I found it what second round of voting strives produce better policies. This is because runoffs often favor candidates who lean toward the centerand Centrist candidates seem to value human rights more and ensure better representation of a larger part of the electorate.

A black man in a suit stands behind a microphone during a campaign speech.
U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker, Republican, addresses supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump during a Republican rally on March 26, 2022 in Commerce, Georgia. Megan Varner/Getty Images

A sign of progress

In the testimony of 1984. Gruver testified candidly that he was a “segregationist” who “had a lot of prejudice” and he “didn’t mind ‘admitting it.’ Even though Gruver was racist, and even though he pushed for runoff voting in Georgia for racist reasons, that doesn’t mean that runoff voting as a system is inherently racist.

Rather, it shows how racist people can be.

If preventing a minority candidate from winning is the primary concern of most voters, then runoff voting will prevent minority candidates from winning.

Earlier Historic win for Warnock in 2021, Georgia did not elect a single African-American senator, governor, lieutenant governor, or secretary of state in a runoff or general election.

The fact that Warnock is now facing Walker, another African-American, suggests that preventing a minority candidate from winning is no longer a top priority for most Georgia voters. Faster than a race, it seems other concerns now command the vote of the majority of Georgians.

In a sense, regardless of who winsGeorgians can be proud of the fact that the state seems to be taking a small step towards a future in which the content of character matters more than the color of the skin – and one in which the voting method was originally adopted to bar black people from public office seems now to have failed its purpose.

Editor’s Note: This story incorporates material from an earlier story published on November 23, 2020.Conversation

Joshua HolzerAssociate Professor of the Department of Political Science, Westminster College

This article is reprinted from Conversation under a Creative Commons license. To read original article.

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