LETTER TO THE EDITOR: It’s time to consider ranked-choice voting
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email email@example.com or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
Shakespeare wrote "A plague o' both your houses!" in Romeo and Juliet. He could have been talking about our significantly dysfunctional Minnesota legislature and our entirely dysfunctional Congress.
American politics today are hyper-partisan, uncivil, often dishonest, with poor voter turnouts, only marginally democratic because of gerrymandering, voter suppression, unrepresentative primaries and prohibitive cost to run for office.
Our elections often do not reflect the true will of the people. It is no wonder that multiple millions of Americans are disgusted with our voting system’s structural flaws which perpetuate the current dysfunctional, unresponsive state of politics.
Much has been written about how we got into this situation, but more important is how we can begin to get out of it. One great idea that is currently being advocated in the Minnesota legislature is ranked-choice voting (RCV).
Several states and localities around the country use RCV. Five cities in Minnesota currently use RCV. With RCV, voters rank candidates in order of preference rather than merely choosing the one, often the least bad, alternative on the ballot.
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If no candidate wins over 50% of the vote, the voters who cast their votes for the least popular candidate have their votes re-allocated to their second choice. This continues until a candidate obtains more than 50% of the vote.
Ranked-choice voting forces candidates to speak to the entire electorate and be more authentic. RCV makes it easier for potential candidates to run without having deep pockets or being forced to match their platform only to wealthy backers.
RCV gives voters more choice without giving up their voice and fixes the serious problem of unrepresentative primaries. RCV is more democratic and brings more electoral participation, accessibility, and diversity into the political process. Ranked-choice voting is a simple, fair, and strong voting reform that we can bring to Minnesota to make our democracy begin to work better for us all.
Currently, several bills are under consideration in Minnesota. HF89, HF1375, and SF218 all establish ranked-choice voting for federal and state offices and authorize ranked-choice voting for local elections.
If you would like more information about ranked-choice voting, a good source of information is Fairvote Minnesota www.fairvotemn.org. And please contact your legislators to express your support.