Letters to the Editor

Letter: Voting pros and cons

It would appear that the pros and cons of the ranked choice voting method will be debated for some time in the letters section. Perhaps that’s a good thing. But it might be helpful to know that voting methods/systems were analyzed about 150 years ago by a well-known professor of mathematics. That professor was Charles Dodgson, better known to most as Lewis Carroll, the author of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass.”

Dodgson was concerned with the validity of elections when various ways of having electors cast their votes were considered. Included in his analysis was ranked choice, but he referred to it as “The Method of Elimination.” After much study, Dodgson could find no one system that would consistently result in the candidate least offensive to the majority being elected. He devised his own convoluted system, but over time realized that it also had faults. I can find nothing that indicates that an unflawed method was found. So we are debating about flawed systems. The wide-open primary system we now use is not mentioned in the literature I’ve seen describing Dodgson’s analysis.

With that in mind, I suggest that the ranked choice method is the best method of those tried here in Alaska. I say this knowing that those of a Republican persuasion tend to find fault with it. However, since no one election method has been found to be flawless, then perhaps ranked choice should be our choice because it’s no worse than others and it eliminates the substantial expense of runoff elections and that reduces the cost of government.

As for the wide-open primary, it seems like that utilizes the largest possible marketplace of voters to make the initial choice of candidates. To restrict the options for that marketplace, effectively shrinking the marketplace, would have to be anathema to anyone who otherwise believes in choices made by the masses.

Finally, perhaps one election doesn’t allow enough time/evolution to know how well the new systems work. There are office holders who have yet to be chosen or rejected by them. How well will our government function when all of the House, Senate, and governor’s positions are exposed to it? That will be the real test.

— Mark Lovegreen


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