It is terrible what happened to Don Perata in the race for Oakland mayor.

Did you hear? The man who ruled the state senate lost his bid to be mayor of Oakland. And it’s just so unfair, as many of Perata’s supporters have made clear. Perata’s consultant John Whitehurst declared that the election outcome had been “an injustice, and Oakland will pay the price.”

The problem, you see, was this new system called Instant Runoff Voting now being used in Oakland, San Francisco, and other cities around the country. In this system, cities – crazily — give voters more choice and avoid expensive runoff elections by allowing voters to rank their choices on the ballot, instead of just choosing one candidate.

So Perata, a fabulous public servant, won the most first place of any of the nine candidates running for mayor. He got 35 percent of those first place votes. But he lost because 35 percent of votes wasn’t a majority. The woman who finished in second place among first-place votes, a city council member named Jean Quan, won when the ranked choices were used to conduct an instant runoff. She had many more second and third place choices than Perata, and won when those were added to the tally.

Think about how unfair this is to Perata. Here he was, a prominent former leader in the state legislature who had by far the most money to spend in the race. And the public opposition to his bid for mayor was minor. After all, only two-thirds of the city’s voters didn’t see him as their first choice for mayor. And a majority of the city didn’t even want him as one of their first three choices.

So he totally should have won.

Or at the very least, there should have been a real runoff between the top two first-place vote getters in the interest of the taxpayers — instead of just the cheaper instant runoff that saved the taxpayers money. That runoff contest would have been a wonderful expression of democracy, with low turnout and a negative campaign in which Perata could have used his financial advantage to savage Quan personally. Which is how we conduct fair elections in a free country.

What injustice! I cry for Don Perata. I cry for democracy. And I cry for Oakland, and particularly that minority of voters who saw this great man as one of their three top choices for mayor – and didn’t get him because of this terrible system.