Alternative voting could improve our political process


Let’s start by making it clear that there’s probably no escaping the steaming pile of horrors we find ourselves in politically with a simple change in the ballots. The hateful rhetoric, lies, widespread voter suppression measures and racist monstrosity known as the Electoral College will not be neutralized by something as simple as a new form.

Yet the effort to bring ranked voting to Colorado cities is, if not a giant leap for humanity, then at least an attractive step in the right direction.

The latest city to consider ranked voting is Fort Collins. If city council gives its approval, voters will decide on a ballot measure on the issue in November and move to preferential voting in the future.

Diane Carman

This method was used in the race for mayor of Basalt in 2020 and will be used to elect the mayor of Boulder and local officials in Broomfield in 2023.

It was used in Maine, Alaska and more than 40 other jurisdictions Across the country. A recent high profile race decided by a ranking vote was New York City mayoral election.

The way ranked voting works is simple, despite critics who say we’re too stupid to figure it out.

Voters rank candidates on their ballot based on their preferences – first, second, third choice, etc. If a candidate is the first choice of a majority of voters, that candidate is declared the winner.

If no candidate wins a majority, the ranking system is in play. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the voters who chose the loser have their second-choice votes applied to that candidate.

If the second choice obtains the majority, a winner is declared. Otherwise, the process continues.

Some of the advantages of preferential voting are obvious, such as the fact that it eliminates the need for run-off elections. It also prevents the election of a candidate whom a majority of voters has rejected.

This happens a lotespecially in non-partisan races or where third-party candidates are in the mix.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was elected with just 39% of the vote in 2006. Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura got 37% in 1998. Maine Governor Paul LePage got 38% in 2010.

Rank voting also allows voters to clearly express their preferences without worrying about calculating eligibility so as not to waste their votes, which in itself is pretty cool.

To imagine how this works, imagine a Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate seat in Colorado in which the candidates are Doug Lamborn, Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck and Tina Peters.

Come on, that’s not even a bit far-fetched.

After a deadly campaign season, a minority of voters might passionately support gunslinger Boebert and rank her first on their ballot, while a majority ranks Peters second, apparently thinking that she cop behavior is more representative of the current spirit of the party. Lamborn and Buck could be eliminated because in this area they are simply not outrageous enough.

The ranked choice system would give Republicans the opportunity to convey their fervent admiration for Boebert without risking wasting their vote on someone who is so clearly eclipsed by another headline crackpot whose star is on the rise. .

But seriously, with Denver’s mayoral election on the horizon, the opportunity for a preferential vote could be a game-changer.

Past races have attracted strong candidates, and the 2023 election should be no exception.

Among the names on the long, long listing of possibilities are Leslie Herod, Kelly Brough, Robin Kneich, Alec Garnett, Tami Door, Candi CdeBaca, Mike Ferrufino, Mike Johnston, Debbie Ortega, Alex Valdez… the list goes on.

It’s not hard to imagine, after months of campaigning, that the race would come down to three or four strong candidates, none of whom are close to securing a majority of votes in the election.

Instead of extending the costly and tedious campaign season and holding a second round of elections, preferential voting could settle the issue decisively in a single ballot.

However, the best case for ranked voting is probably the growing body of evidence in Maine, New York and Alaska that it discourages the scorched earth tactics that have become the disgusting norm in so many American elections.

READ: Colorado Sun Opinion Columnists.

Political consultants have insisted for decades that the reason vicious negative campaigns are so popular is because they work.

For some particularly cheeky candidates, that means all they have to do is give their opponents insulting nicknames that stick in voters’ minds, and those are shoo-ins.

This won’t work, however, if the candidates need a large percentage of supporters from their second-ranking opponents to win. Doing good becomes a winning strategy.

In Maine, two candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor went so far as to run in a joint advertising campaign talk about their respect for each other in a call for cross support in the ranking election.

This is not a joke.

I know it’s hard to imagine after all the hideous campaign rhetoric we’ve endured over the past few years, but preferential voting makes political campaigns more civil – even if it’s only because it’s in the interest candidates.

For most of us, that alone is a reason to try.

Diane Carman is a communications consultant in Denver.

The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the editorial staff. Read our Ethics Policy to learn more about The Sun’s Opinion Policy and submit articles, suggest authors or give feedback to [email protected]

We believe vital information should be seen by those affected, whether it is a public health crisis, investigative reporting, or holding lawmakers accountable. This report depends on the support of readers like you.


Comments are closed.