November 22, 2013

Last week, we asked: Is ranked-choice voting too complex for the public to understand? Would it, as Sen. Dave Senjem said, increase partisanship in city elections? Or, as Rochester City Council member Michael Wojcik said, is the charter commission itself being partisan by refusing to consider an election system that could eliminate the need for special elections and primaries?

Below are the responses we received:

A better system for America

I've caucused with both Republicans and Democrats. I supported independent Lars Johnson for Congress in 2010, and I ran for state Legislature as a Libertarian in 1982. I'm no party "hack."

Like many independents on both right and left, I'm a supporter of ranked-choice voting.

Some say Tim Walz encouraged Lars Johnson's participation in 2010 because Johnson would "steal votes" from Allen Quist. RCV would have defeated such a strategy, as ballots that ranked Johnson first and Quist second eventually would have counted for Quist.

By the same token, Mitt Romney might have gained some second-placed votes resulting from the elimination of Gary Johnson in 2012.

I don't support RCV because I'm "partisan" or "leftist." I support it because it will make politicians more responsive to the people. Significant majorities of the voting public (right and left) are in agreement on major issues, but politicians don't listen.

Opposition to ranked-choice voting is worse than partisan foolishness; it's bipartisan foolishness. When Republocrats are unresponsive, people need third and fourth choices on right and left. IRV helps to make that possible by eliminating the canard of the "wasted vote."

William J. Rood


Commission isn't too busy

Reports on RCV suggest the benefits far outweigh any problems. One therefore has to wonder why the commission rejected it without study or an opportunity for the voters to be heard. Surely democracy demands nothing less.

Is it a good idea? One can argue either way, but the commission's workload does not appear to be so heavy that they do not have the time.

Several are proposing a petition drive to force it onto the ballot so perhaps all is not lost.

Ray Schmitz


Mudslinging would be reduced

It's long been the refrain in politics that voting for a third-party candidate is a wasted vote. As a result, countless people vote for a candidate they don't believe in or worse, they don't vote at all.

This kind of thinking crushes democracy. It is tragic that an individual would believe that voting for the candidate they feel is most suitable to lead could be a "throwaway" vote.

Ranked-choice voting is an answer to this. RCV allows voters to rank candidates by order of who they feel is most suitable for the position. Every voter's ballot "counts" because ballots are "run-off" until a majority vote is reached.

Furthermore, when candidates know they'll be ranked on ballots, they know that second-place votes could potentially help them win an election. They can no longer afford the mudslinging and bad-mouthing our elections have become riddled with. Candidates are then forced to run based on real and important issues, instead of just campaigning against their opposition.

Rochester has a chance to give its citizens a true voice during important elections, and for this reason, ranked-choice voting should be further explored.

Jeremy Miller


RCV is confusing

As a former mayor, I can attest that ranked-choice voting should be scuttled.

Supporters of RCV suggest the system guarantees a majority winner; it does no such thing. Furthermore, I have had a number of individuals tell me they were confused with the system and really did not want to cast more than one vote for any elected position. It appears almost no one wants to vote for more than one candidate. Low-income voters are completely confused with RCV voting.

Bottom line: RCV is not a process that should be used in any municipal election. If gaining 50 percent of votes is important, the only way to do it iswith a runoff. If not, go to plurality system. It is the equal of RCV.

Tony Santos

San Leandro, Calif.

Voter turnout would improve

Ranked-choice voting will increase voter turnout by typically 50 percent or more. Is this what Sen. Dave Senjem means when he states this will lead to more partisan voting?

It also will save time, money, effort and paper. It also will reduce negative campaigning.

Ireland has had RCV for 21 years. This could do a lot to ensure a democratic process.

If a reader has doubts or questions, there is a wealth of information about RCV available online.

Dave Pierson


A lot to like about RCV

I was disappointed that the Rochester Charter Commission will not consider ranked-choice voting for city elections.

RCV lets voters rank choices in order of preference, as opposed to just choosing one. In theory, this prevents two similar candidates from "splitting" the vote and allowing a third to win with less than a majority. It also prevents third-party candidates with little hope of winning from "siphoning" votes from a candidate, allowing a less-desirable candidate to win.

This system, which was recently used in the Minneapolis mayoral election, could have been of great use over the past year in Rochester, potentially negating the need for multiple run-offs and special elections.

RCV can discourage negative campaigning, as candidates may hesitate to attack other candidates personally for fear of alienating voters who could see them as a second choice.

With partisan differences raging across the country, ranked-choice voting could be a way to bridge the gap and help bring disparate factions together. It is something that should not only be considered in Rochester, but across the country in state, local and national elections as well.

Tony Wirt


Learn more, then decide

Let's get informed about ranked-choice voting before we say we are not interested.

It is already used to elect leaders in several countries, quite a few major cities, hundreds of jurisdictions, as well as by some organizations and corporations. Among its advantages: Because only one election is needed, turnout generally increases. It gives a voter extra incentive because our vote still counts even if our first choice doesn't win, and it results in election by a majority, not just a plurality.

The Minnesota League of Women Voters has endorsed it; Fair Vote MN ( provides a little practice in how it works and offers presentations to local groups.

Darlene Coffman