To The Editor:

When Joe Biden entered the ranks of some two dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls, he became the instant frontrunner with about 30% in the polls. This may have been due largely to name recognition, but if the figures hold, Biden may become the Democratic nominee with just a plurality of the votes.

How would we know that he was the preferred choice of a majority of Democratic voters? We won't as long as we give the nod to the candidate with the most votes, even if less than a majority. To get as close as possible to the will of the majority, we need ranked voting, sometimes called instant run-off.

Ranked voting works like this. Instead of selecting their one preferred candidate, the voters would rank all of the candidates from 1 to however many candidates there are. Then, in the counting, if no one candidate had a majority, the bottom candidate would be eliminated and the No. 2 picks of that person's voters would be distributed among the other candidates. This process would continue until a candidate achieved a majority. If no one had a majority after all the No. 2 picks were allocated, then we go to the No. 3 picks and so on.

I have heard two objections to this system. The first is it is too complicated and voters might not rank all the candidates. The counting may sound complicated, but ranking is quite simple and professionals, rather than the average voter, would do the counting. If voters chose not to rank all of the cndidates, then only those they did rank would figure in the counting. Even today, voters may choose not to vote in all races. Only the extent to which you vote is your influence felt.

The other objection is that it would lengthen the counting, thus delaying determination of a winner. Which is more important: "fast" or "accurate"? I believe it is more important to determine the will of the majority of the voters than to reach a quick conclusion.

Donald Trump won the Republican primaries in 2016 with a plurality of the votes. Would those Republicans who preferred some other candidates have listed Trump as second choice? We will never know.

Larry Lowther



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