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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Election math

  • Author: Brian McNeil
    | Opinion
  • Updated: October 22
  • Published October 22

Our current election system requires only a plurality winner, with no minimum percentage requirement. It works just dandy when there are only two candidates, because unless it’s a tie, the winner will have a majority anyway. But let’s say there are three candidates, and the election results for candidates A,B and C are 32%, 33% and 35%, respectively. Some election systems require a runoff election of the top two candidates when no one has either a majority, or alternately a minimum plurality, such as 45%.

Why do this? Because let’s say candidates A and B closely represent the views of “Side 1” and attract voters with similar points of view, whereas the plurality winner C represents the views of “Side 2” alone. With either a majority or minimum plurality requirement, B and C would advance to a runoff election, and quite likely B would win, because they would likely attract the voters that had favored unsuccessful candidate A.

Ranked-choice voting accomplishes the same result as having a runoff election, without requiring a second trip to the polls. It’s just a mathematical exercise that allows for the will of the majority of voters to be respected. It’s really not that complicated.

Brian McNeil


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