To the editor:
In his May 7 letter to the editor about ranked-choice voting, Nick Blanch included a few statements which require correction.
First, when you cast fewer votes than are allowed in an election – for example, voting for one candidate in a local school board election where there are three seats at stake (a practice known as bullet balloting) – this is referred to as an undervote, not an exhausted ballot. Under ranked-choice voting, an exhausted ballot occurs when a voter is allowed to rank fewer candidates than there are candidates in the race, and none of the candidates which the voter ranks turns out to be a finalist. In fact, ranked-choice voting negates the bullet balloting strategy, which is sometimes used to elect fringe candidates to city councils and school boards in races where there are multiple open seats.
Second, ranked-choice voting is not confusing. In fact, it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3…, as voters in Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Louis Park and other cities around the country have already discovered.
It encourages the participation of additional candidates with diverse points of view to run for office, which boosts turnout among voters who see themselves newly represented on the candidate slate.
It promotes more civil elections with less negative campaigning because candidates avoid offending voters who prefer another candidate, but might be persuaded to vote for them as their second choice.
It eliminates strategic voting, in which voters cast their votes for the “least bad” candidate who they think can win, instead of voting for the candidate who they really prefer. With ranked-choice voting, you can make your favored candidate your first choice and the least bad candidate your second choice, knowing that you won’t be wasting your vote and throwing the election to the worst candidate.
In Bloomington, the adoption of ranked-choice voting would also eliminate expensive, low-turnout primary elections where a tiny slice of the electorate has an inordinate say over who advances to the general election ballot in November.
There is really no downside to ranked-choice voting for Bloomington voters.
Elkins is the Minnesota House District 49B representative and an author of ranked-choice voting legislation.