With ranked choice, third-party voters have a say

  • Updated: November 9, 2013 - 2:00 PM

With few delusions of success, they can pick on principle

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Photo: Fred Matamoros • News Tribune/MCT,

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Ranked-choice voting

Third-party thinkers are empowered

Tuesday’s elections were, for this voter, an intensely liberating experience. Many times I’ve voted for periphery candidates who fail to gain the endorsement of the political establishment. My vote, therefore, gets cast in vain for the perennial long shot. Maybe this tendency stems from an entrenched two-party system that doesn’t have the chops to represent the full gamut of political philosophy. Maybe it stems from my general disregard for convention or, more likely, from years of following the Vikings. For whatever reason, I take perverse pleasure in rooting for the underdog.

With age, however, comes pragmatism. Sadly, my vote for principle gets cast with more and more reluctance. Particularly in close races, I’m cornered into voting for the “least bad” option.

Ranked-choice voting changes this. It allows a vote on principle for that first choice, and then leaves the room to make a pragmatic selection for the person much more likely to govern our great city. Third-party voters have few delusions of grandeur. We often cast a ballot in the hope that one of the major political parties will include a new plank into the party platform. Ranked choice reaffirms that idea without taking anyone out of the selection process.

After the preliminary results were tabulated, this paper’s Editorial Board wrongly discounted the performance of some of the third-party candidates as a paltry showing in a typically DFL-dominated race. I humbly disagree. Those “first choices” are probably the truest representation of voter temperature we’ve ever seen in Minneapolis.

We hear a lot of talk about “mandates” to enact policy after an election win. That was the way of the old guard. With ranked-choice voting, rather than a mandate, we have a road map to direct policymakers. Given her track record for thoughtfulness and a seeming disregard for the approval of the political establishment, I would be surprised if Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges doesn’t take a long, hard look at the proposed policies of her fallen foes to help flesh out her plan for governing our wonderful city.

JIM WATKINS, Minneapolis

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