The Recorder - Ranked-choice voting

Max Marcus :: Greenfield Recorder

Published: 10/5/2020 3:46:41 PM

My thanks to Terry Plotkin for his excellent My Turn making the case for Question 2 (Ranked-Choice Voting) on the November ballot. His analysis of the last Greenfield mayoral race reinforced his argument by showing explicitly how ranked-choice voting might have impacted that race.

I would add two other points.

First, some people might be put off by the apparent complexity of a ranked-choice ballot. There’s a simple answer: just indicate your preferred candidate as your first choice and ignore the others. Your ballot is perfectly valid if you mark it for just one candidate.

Second, you might wonder why we aren’t already using ranked-choice voting if it’s all that great. Computers have made the difference here. Counting the votes manually in a ranked-choice election isn’t easy. Before mechanized vote-counting became available, ranked-choice voting was rarely considered.

Ranked-choice voting isn’t perfect — but then, no voting system can be perfect. That was proven mathematically by the economist Kenneth Arrow, who won a Nobel Prize for his efforts. You can learn more about that by looking up Arrow’s Theorem online. Election systems are the primary topic of Social Choice Theory, which is a subfield of economics.

Paul Abrahams


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