Voting for Someone Unwanted is the Wasted Vote

A letter to the editor at the Denver Post by my friend Kirk Sarell.

I completely agree with him and he puts  it very well. -MDW

re: May 7 Gail Collins editorial, “Repulsed by Biden vs. Trump? Tough.”

Ms. Collins, in her May 7 editorial about not voting for third-party candidates, is on target for pointing out how anti-democratic (small-d) our current, winner-take-all electoral system is. By only recognizing value in candidates from the two major parties, it demeans us to be forced into a choice between two people whose campaigns devolve to who is least detested. But that is a comfortable environment for those who lead and work for those two parties, never mind the resulting hatchet job to We The People. This is a sorry state for our democracy to be in and we citizens owe it to ourselves to demand more meaningful engagement in our elections. Our system will continue to degrade until outside voices, and campaigns based on ideas rather than the vilification of the other “viable” candidate, become more than just “spoilers”.

The disappointment in her editorial is that she says “tough”, throws up her hands, and pursues no resolution to the problem of the two parties offering undesirable candidates. But there are solutions. Most readily available is Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), which enables us to actually vote our conscience and preference through providing the ability to select second, third, et cetera, choices. Contrary to what Ms. Collins apparently believes, voting — under any electoral system — for someone whom you do not want to see in office is the true wasted vote. There are no wasted votes in RCV through its rounds of tallying. At this time of the Denver’s continuing Mayoral race, we must also recognize that RCV would have spared the city the expense (financial and otherwise) of a run-off election between two candidates who may or may not have broad approval. By measuring support and acceptability, Ranked Choice Voting is healthy for our local governance as well as for primaries and national-level contests.

With a ranked range of choices that will actually be considered, we needn’t be distraught over a Biden versus Trump repulsion. Wouldn’t that be a relief!

— Kirk Sarell
Northglenn, Colorado

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