Point/counterpoint – ranked-choice voting

By Reade Brower | Dec 06, 2018

The point/counterpoint concept is intriguing, a debate format where each person/group makes an argument and then is rebutted by the opposing viewpoint.

In the case of ranked-choice voting, Tom Seymour’s column in the Nov. 29 Republican Journal serves as the point. His column, "Conservative to the core," is titled “Ranked choice voting hurts everyone.”

My take follows. Tom is welcome to this space next week for rebuttal or can do it online on the Village Soup comments; dialogue is appreciated, respectful disagreement encouraged.

Tom begins “Maine had the dubious distinction of being the first state to decide an election by ranked-choice voting.”

I would say Maine is at the forefront of a voting style that is “for the people, by the people.”

His next claim that the “yes” box was checked “by virtue of being misinformed” concluding that many who voted for RCV are “suffering buyer’s remorse,” is not backed up or factual.

I think most people knew voting “yes” would allow them to vote their conscience, rather than voting for someone because they didn’t want someone repugnant to them. Third-party candidates like Eliot Cutler intrigue voters, but votes for third-party candidates often dilute the vote so neither the Democrat nor Republican has a majority (over 50 percent). In the case of ranked-choice voting, you vote who you want (conscience) while knowing your second choice has weight (pragmatic).

The beauty of ranked-choice voting is that instead of fear being your motivator (fear that a vote for Cutler will help LePage get elected, so better vote for the Democrat because Cutler doesn’t have a chance), now hope is guiding you. Hope that Cutler is the first choice on  more than 50 percent of the ballots, knowing that if he isn’t, your number-two choice counts.

Tom writes; “because of ranked-choice voting, Bruce Poliquin lost to Jared Golden,” adding that Poliquin had more votes than Golden and wondering “how is this possible,” then blaming it on “modern math” while claiming it disenfranchises voters.

It didn’t disenfranchise me or the majority of people voting “yes” to innovation. Many felt empowered to vote their conscience, and rather than an expensive run-off (which is another method that allows the top vote-getter on the first round to be defeated, under the theory we want a majority of votes when electing our representatives), this makes sense.

The “big lie” Tom refers to is neither big nor a lie. You don’t have to put down a second or third choice; you are allowed to choose just one candidate. His conclusion that the unintended consequence is “nobody will vote at all” is unfounded, as is his theory that “significant numbers of voters may decide to sit home” next election because of it.

Tom's disclaimer, “my beef holds true no matter who wins. Were a Republican to gain a seat, after earning fewer votes than his opponent, because ranked-choice voting gave him or her victory; that would be wrong” feels disingenuous.

How about Donald Trump ceding his presidency to Hillary Clinton? Tom, she got more than 3 million more votes than Trump. You wrote: “The candidate with the most votes wins. Period.”

“If ranked-choice voting isn’t rescinded, our whole system of voting will plunge into the abyss and we will become nothing more than another banana republic,” predicts Tom. Wow, that’s a leap, as is, “Our founders would cringe were they aware of the chaos and ruin that has befallen our election system. It is beyond me why a system that has proved efficient for over 200 years should suddenly need fixing.”

Proven efficient; really? What about Florida? Tom, 200 years ago women couldn’t vote and we had slavery; some changes are for the good.

The real issue to tackle when it comes to voting is to stop gerrymandering and disenfranchising voters. Rigging districts to benefit Republicans has been going on for years, and has been effective in helping politicians by creating districts beneficial to them. The notion of suppressing votes is also a Republican initiative. While Democrats fight to get the vote out, Republicans work to create rules making it harder for certain populations to have their votes counted at all. Recently, voting places were “centralized,” creating hardships for lower-income voters.

This ends on a note of agreement, as Tom asks; “It is possible the Electoral College may be the next American institution to go under the axe?”

I agree with Tom; I like the present system and am not suggesting the popular vote replace the Electoral College; it keeps everyone involved, makes politicians listen to rural and urban citizens, and to all states, not just ones highly populated that would get more weight if popular voting for president were instituted.

***

“The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.”

---Nadine Gordimer, novelist, Nobel laureate (1923-2014)

Comments (2)
Posted by: Kevin Riley | Dec 06, 2018 08:37

Had republicans won Tom's opinion piece wound be extolling the virtues of Ranked-Choice voting.

Sadly, I've never seen Tom back here to debate anyone that posts a counterpoint or responds to his posts in the Opinion section on line.

I'm almost shocked at how out of touch he is with the facts of any subject he decides to write about.

When I finally retire and move back home I for one will greatly appreciate Ranked-Choice voting.



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Dec 06, 2018 06:58

The only people against ranked choice voting are those who know they can't win any other way except by gaming the system to ensure that a virulent minority wins out over the majority.  As Reade points out the Republicans have been working for decades to cheat Americans out of their right to vote.  Those chickens will soon be coming home to roost and ranked choice voting is simply the opening salvo in a political war for the rights of all Americans to be heard and involved in the process that rules their lives.  As I've always said Dems believe in the "rule of the people," while Republicans only believe in the rule of the "right" people.



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