My Turn: A rant ‘about the undemocratic nature of our elections’


Published: 9/6/2020 3:29:25 PM

It’s time for my election-year rant about the undemocratic nature of our elections. In 2016 and 2018, I wrote about the need for reforms that would allow candidates with the most support from citizens overall to rise to the top. One necessary reform is ranked voting, which would allow one to pick more than one candidate to support, and count the second choice if the first was eliminated early on.

Ranked voting is not enough. Because separate ballots are printed for each political party, many voters are denied the opportunity to participate in selecting which candidates will appear on the November ballot.

Working at the polls on Sept. 1, I witnessed a voter who is registered in one party denied the right to receive a ballot of another party on which there were more contested races. Thus, he had no say in which candidates will appear on the November ballot.

There were four ballots available. The Democrat ballot had several contested races; the Republican ballot had one contested race and several offices with no candidate; and the Green-Rainbow and Libertarian party ballots had no candidates in the ballots. Most of the unenrolled (independent) voters chose the Democrat ballot with the most decisions to be decided.

Because the state supports the political parties by printing separate ballots for each party, a lot of paper is wasted in printing ballots that no one wants; candidates cannot get on the November ballot unless they win a race in which only part of the electorate is eligible to vote, and one candidate who is actually supported as first or second choice by a majority of the voters may not appear on the November ballot.

I do not want my tax dollars spent supporting political parties, a system that denies voters their right to decide who will be on the November ballot because they cannot split their vote.

Voters should not be registered to vote by party, which is a denial of privacy, nor should candidates be listed by party. They can seek the endorsement of their party the same way they seek endorsements from any other political organization, such as the ACLU and NRA. If they want voters to know their party affiliation, they can advertise it themselves.

There should be one primary election with all candidates running equally. The top four chosen by ranked voting should be printed on the November ballot, and the November election should be decided by ranked voting. Thus it would be possible to elect the candidate who actually has the support of a majority of voters.

Judith Truesdell is a resident of Shelburne.

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