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LETTERS

With NYC primary, preliminary results (ahem) are in on ranked-choice voting

A New York City Board of Election staff member, left, shows a ballot to a campaign observer as primary election absentee ballots are counted in New York on July 2. The three candidates who are in the running in New York City's Democratic mayoral primary have all filed legal actions seeking the right to review the ongoing ranked-choice vote tally.
A New York City Board of Election staff member, left, shows a ballot to a campaign observer as primary election absentee ballots are counted in New York on July 2. The three candidates who are in the running in New York City's Democratic mayoral primary have all filed legal actions seeking the right to review the ongoing ranked-choice vote tally.Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

New York’s experience is a step forward

As someone who campaigned for the ranked-choice voting initiative in last year’s election and a lifelong liberal Democrat, I was dismayed and frankly infuriated to read Marcela García’s July 10 column, “The glorification of ranked-choice voting” (July 10). García’s suggestion that ranked-choice voting could be some nifty way to elect more progressives is false and dangerous — to both ranked choice and all other efforts to advance a truly representative, participatory democracy.

Proponents were quite explicit: Ranked-choice voting is nonpartisan and not designed to support any party or ideology. The goal is to make elections more reflective of the desires of the larger electorate rather than smaller, but more vocal, minorities — regardless of where on the spectrum they fall. I met (virtually) Republican and Libertarian ranked-choice voting supporters who expressed the reasonable and informed belief that it would help their candidates and third-party candidates as much as it would Democrats.

Efforts to improve representation, such as reducing voter suppression, eliminating gerrymandering, and expanding the size of legislatures, are doomed to fail if they are seen as benefiting one ideology or party, when that is precisely what they are designed to avoid.

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The voters of New York would indeed not tell Bostonians to “be careful what you wish for.” A clear majority of them indicated that Eric Adams was the most acceptable candidate (no matter what García or I may feel about him). They got exactly what they wished for, and we should all feel better about that than we would if he had won with the 30.8 percent of votes he received on the first round.

Nancy Waters

Acton


It’s about election integrity, not partisanship

In the wake of New York City’s first mayoral primary that featured ranked-choice voting, there have been numerous reviews of the effectiveness of this unusual voting system, but none more bizarre than Marcela García’s “The glorification of ranked-choice voting.” She asserts that “ranked-choice voting was supposed to be a godsend for self-styled progressive candidates in Democratic primaries,” on the theory that progressives split the vote and moderates are chosen without a majority. Surely, if this is the motivation for progressives to support this voting option, they’re likely to be disappointed, as they were in the case of New York’s results. However, I’d like to think that my fellow progressives aren’t that baldly partisan.

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Election integrity is under assault in this country, and ranked-choice voting makes it possible for the most broadly acceptable candidate to prevail — period. That’s why I support it, and why I support fair election mechanics in general: not because it will favor my electoral choices but because it will support democracy itself.

Sam Bayer

Cambridge


In order to form a more democratic system

Embedded in Marcela García’s column “The glorification of ranked-choice voting” is the most succinct and accurate argument in favor of ranked-choice voting I have ever heard: “Ranked-choice is a more democratic system, for sure.” It can’t get any clearer than that.

Marylou Domino

Milton


NYC election board’s missteps are a vote against ranked choice

Your July 2 editorial, “New York’s rank incompetence shouldn’t derail national momentum for voting reforms,” argues that the snafu in the results of the New York Democratic mayoral primary is due to a systems failure and not ranked-choice voting. However, it overlooks that a system breakdown itself is a failure of ranked choice. Trying to process several rounds of retabulated results with the same data could lead to potential information overload.

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When I ran for Congress in 2018, a mock ranked-choice vote was held at one of our debates in Lowell. We were unable to get the results due to a computer glitch.

It took two weeks to declare a winner in the New York tally. What if this were a presidential election? Speaking of which, the New York case has been fodder for the Trump set, who see election fraud everywhere there isn’t.

Ranked-choice voting is complicated and confusing to voters and to the election officials who have to process the results. No wonder members of the New York City Board of Elections went on vacation after the vote.

You claim that ranked-choice voting might prevent negative campaigns. You clearly weren’t following the New York race. Several candidates dumped on the eventual winner, Eric Adams, accusing him of not living in the city. A few reporters joined the fray, snooping around his building to try to determine his residency. Adams countered that the attacks were racist, even though many of the other candidates were people of color.

Seems like a negative campaign to me.

Leonard Golder

Stow

The writer is an attorney who was a Democratic candidate for Congress in 2018 in the Third Congressional District in Massachusetts.


Bumpy or not, the system worked

The editorial “New York’s rank incompetence shouldn’t derail national momentum for voting reforms” describes the situation as a “disaster” caused by “ineptitude” and states that “every member” of New York City’s elections board “should be held accountable for breaking” trust in election results.

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After posting inaccurate preliminary results in a party primary, the board determined what its mistake was, owned up to it, and corrected it in an open and transparent manner, all within 24 hours. Isn’t that exactly how we hope for and rely on all of our public institutions of record to behave?

John Girash

Arlington