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Ellen Brown in Pioneer Press: Silver Lining

Ellen Brown l Letter to the Editor, Pioneer Press l April, 24, 2016

As a longtime proponent of Ranked Choice Voting, Im seeing a silver lining to the dysfunction, chaos and polarization on display in this years presidential race: To more and more Americans, the urgency of embracing electoral reform is finally becoming clear.

How strange that the GOP seems to be moving inexorably toward nominating a candidate who as pointed out by Ramesh Ponnuru in the March 18 commentary Instant runoff? A bold, fair way to choose a Republican nominee is bitterly opposed by a majority of party members. Strange, not because such things never happen in multi-candidate races; they happen all too often. Strange because it doesnt have to work that way.

If Republicans used RCV to choose their nominee, theyd land on a consensus choice. Perhaps not the flashiest, most headline-grabbing choice, but a candidate who worked to secure broad support a candidate most party members could live with. In fact, if contenders could run without worrying about the spoiler or wasted vote syndromes those phenomena dont exist under RCV; voters can vote their heart and their head the entire field might have looked different. And the candidates in that field would have no reason to pander to extremist factions in the party; thered be no political incentive to do so. Under Ranked Choice Voting, courting zealots is counterproductive.

We St. Paulites, like our friends across the river, have understood this for years. Its partly why we adopted RCV for our local elections, and its worked beautifully (next year, well be putting it to the test in whats likely to be the citys first open mayors race in 12 years). Along with a few other smart, early adopter cities, weve seen how RCV makes democracy more participatory, representative, civil and substantive.

Now, with the presidential race degenerating into disarray and even violence, the rest of the country is starting to take notice. And not a moment too soon. Theres a better way; lets not waste any more time in choosing it for state and local elections, as well as in our city.

Ellen T. Brown, St. Paul

 

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