Avoiding another primary like the Democratic Fourth
In “Why ranked choice is the wrong choice” (Ideas, Sept. 20), Jeff Jacoby actually makes clear why Massachusetts voters should vote yes on Question 2 this fall.
Jacoby claims that ranked-choice voting exhausts voters while giving them an excuse to make more meaningless “mulligan” decisions on their ballot.
But under RCV, voters can rank candidates in order of preference. They can rank one or two candidates, or every single candidate. This would have proved hugely beneficial in the crowded Fourth Congressional District Democratic primary, where one candidate defeated eight others with a mere 22.4 percent of the vote.
RCV will not exhaust voters; it will empower them.
Additionally, no selection is meaningless with RCV. Under our current voting system, we must often sacrifice our “ideal” candidate in the hope of electing a more “realistic” candidate. This abandonment of the ideal frustrates and discourages voters. RCV would allow voters to rank their “ideal” and “realistic” candidates in the order they see fit.
Let’s make the right decision. Let’s vote yes on 2.
Policy and Communications Manager
A disconnect for candidates and voters
I strongly oppose the Nov. 3 Massachusetts ballot Question 2 on ranked-choice voting. Ranked-choice voting would disconnect elections from issues and allow candidates with marginal support from voters to win. It would obscure true debate and issue-driven dialogue among candidates and eliminates genuine binary choices between two top-tier candidates.
Finally, it also disenfranchises voters, because ballots that do not include the two ultimate finalists are cast aside to manufacture a faux majority for the winner.
If I can’t have what I want, can I get my second choice?
Jeff Jacoby suggests that people lose their vote if their ballot is discarded because they did not select one of the top vote-getters as one of their choices. But that’s no worse than today’s system. A vote doesn’t count if the voter voted for one of the “losers.” In ranked choice, if they want to affect the election they can vote for their second and/or their third choice. They will have participated in the election. The winner in this system represents the choice of a majority of the voters. In the current system, the people are ruled by the candidate who does not represent the preferred candidate of the majority. A runoff system accomplishes the same thing, but it requires a second election.
Anthony S. Rinaldi
No one is ‘disenfranchised’ by ranked choice
Jeff Jacoby’s argument that ranked-choice voting “disenfranchises” voters who vote for neither of the two finalists is illogical.
Let’s reimagine the 2000 election, which had far-left (Ralph Nader) and far-right (Pat Buchanan) candidates in addition to Al Gore and George W. Bush. What happens in the current system to Nader and Buchanan supporters? Their votes are counted, whereupon they have no say at all in the outcome.
Now consider the same election with ranked-choice voting, and imagine the fate of voters who are so fixated on Nader or Buchanan that they are unwilling by choice to cast a second-place vote for Gore or Bush. Their votes are counted, whereupon they have no say at all in the outcome. Their status has not changed in the least, so the assertion that they have been “disenfranchised” by the new system is absurd. The existence of further rounds of vote-counting doesn’t change their status, any more than a recount of the Florida votes for Bush and Gore would change it.
It’s the current system that “disenfranchises” anyone whose favorite candidate is other than the two top vote-getters. Ranked-choice voting gives them the opportunity to express their support for their favored candidate, yet still have a say in the election. And in primaries, ranked-choice voting strengthens the more numerous centrist candidates at the expense of the extremists — something our democracy needs desperately.
Eric M. Van
Betting on probabilities
Jeff Jacoby’s argument fails to address the root problem of our plurality system: Voters must prioritize the probability of their candidate winning over their merit alone. I cannot vote my conscience without first calculating whether my vote will split support away from “more probable” candidates and possibly result in a victory by an even less desirable one. Simply put, we have a system that rewards name recognition and visibility — both of which are primarily enjoyed by incumbents and well-financed candidates — leading to disenfranchisement as the same faces and ideas recirculate.
Further, do we really think we are achieving representative government when the “winner” in the 2020 Fourth Congressional District Democratic primary received only 22 percent of the vote?
Voters should be focused on who is best, not who is best known.
Sean T. Kenney
The choice in ranked choice
Jacoby claims that voters who do not rank are disenfranchised. Just as a person who actively decides not to vote is saying that they do not care which candidate wins, a voter who stops ranking is saying that once all candidates for whom they have voted are eliminated they do not care who among the remainder is elected. It is not disenfranchisement, it is an active choice.