Donald E. Davison donald at mich.com
Tue Nov 21 04:19:44 PST 2000

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 11-21-00
Dear MikeO,

    Good news, there is only one John Gear.
    Were you worried?
    Me worry?  Me no worry.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 11-20-00
>Hello Don,

>This is John Gear, *formerly* of Washington State, now living in Lansing ....

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 11-21-00

  ------------ Forwarded Letter -------------
From: John Gear <fairvotemichigan at home.com>

First Publication: Lansing State Journal, Friday, November 17, 2000

   Allowing voters to rank their choices would add value to all votes
   When I screw up, it's usually worse because it's something I anticipated
but failed to fix.  Just like when I nearly killed myself driving.  Upon
waking I remembered being told not to drive all night because I would fall
asleep at the wheel.

       Now we are all stuck in a shared national crash we saw coming.  We
will either elect a president who lacks even plurality support (much less a
majority) or we will not -- but only by the grace of God.
   Derek Melot's Nov. 9 column blasting Green Party candidate Ralph Nader for
this ignores that all who have studied the Electoral College predicted
this. Blaming Nader is like blaming a bathroom scale for obesity.  The
Electoral College, as anachronistic as bleeding patients to cure them of
"bad humors," always contains chances for "loser take all" elections.
   And, while this wasn't Michigan's year to be ignored, the College also
causes candidates to ignore states that appear to be decided early.  All
campaign energy -- and even the candidates' ideas for how to govern -- are
pitched only to a small slice of America: swing voters in swing states.

         This means that people who are least engaged in politics and the
least well-informed have the most power.  Even an imaginary state populated
only by ideal citizens who tirelessly study issues would no doubt reap a
reward in heaven -- but here would be ignored and promised no pork just as
soon as polls revealed how they leaned.
  What to do? Simple.  Scrap the Electoral College and elect the president by
vote of the people.
   But what if the top finisher only gets 37% support, like Jesse Ventura in
winning the governorship of Minnesota?  That's bad.  The president of the
United States should not be someone whom more people opposed than
supported.  That means we need a runoff.
   Runoff!? That means pitting two candidates against each other in a short,
intense war fueled by millions of dollars for soundbite attack ads.  It
would cost taxpayers $100 million just to administer the election. And
campaign-weary voters would have to vote again  which means many would not.
   Luckily, there is a proven way to find the majority's choice with only one
ballot.  How?  Use a full-choice ballot that lets voters rank their choices
instead of only choosing one.
    Then, if no candidate earns a majority, the least popular one is dropped
and a runoff is held instantly.  In this runoff, each ballot goes to the
highest-ranked candidate marked on it, skipping over dropped
candidates.  This repeats until one candidate has a majority.
   This "instant runoff voting" ends minority winners-without-mandates and
would promote positive campaigns, as candidates would appeal to opponents'
supporters for second and third choice rankings.
   Most important, instant runoff voting means no spoilers, period.  Every
voter will get to vote without fear of helping to elect someone they
despise.  By making all candidates care about all voters  no matter where
they live  instant runoff voting not only prevents "loser take all," it
means all voters win.

John Gear of East Lansing is a Policy Analyst with the Center for Voting
and Democracy, www.fairvote.org

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