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February 24, 2020

2/4/2020 2:28:00 PM
A better way

Dear Editor:
Everyone decries the hyper-partisan nature of today's politics and wonders what can be done about it. An important source of the problem is the nature of our elections which give rise to candidates who are far to the right or far to the left. If only we could encourage candidates whose views more closely reflect those of the wider majority.
That's why I was so encouraged to learn about two new innovative concepts - Ranked Choice Voting and Open Top-Four Primary Elections . Both initiatives are designed to improve our outdated election processes.
Fortunately Iowa Country residents will have a great opportunity to learn first hand about these encouraging innovations on Thursday, February 6 at 6:30 p.m. when the Dodgeville Public Library hosts Sara Eskrich, executive director of Democracy Found, the nonpartisan Wisconsin initiative created by Republicans, Democrats and Independents
Open Top-Four Primary Elections allow all candidates, regardless of political affiliation, to appear on the same primary ballot, with the top four finishers advancing to the general election. Unlike in today's elections, when only candidates from the far right or far left make it through contentious primaries, this would enable healthy competition among a variety of candidates who are more representative of all voters.
The second change, Ranked Choice Voting, which is working well in the State of Maine and in a number of major cities across the country, would apply in the general election. This method allows voters to rank candidates on their ballot in order of preference ("my first choice, my second, my third...") Then, in a series of instant runoffs, candidates with the fewest votes are dropped. Their supporters' votes are reassigned to those voters' next-highest choice, until one candidate receives a true majority. The impact of so-called "spoiler" candidates who have no chance of winning but totally skew the final results would be eliminated quickly.
In localities where these two voting procedures are used, civility in elections has greatly increased. Candidates find they must reach out positively to as many voters as possible rather than turning to "mud-slinging" by attacking an opponent's character. An added advantage is that unnecessary runoff elections are eliminated, saving taxpayers the entire cost of a second election.
If you are interested in a straightforward way of making democracy more fair and functional, plan to be at the Dodgeville Public Library on Thursday, February 6 at 6:30 p.m. to hear more.

Shirley Barnes
Dodgeville, WI

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