To the Editor:
With six active candidates and no runoff, Red Wing's mayoral election may well have left us with a victor who received less than a third of the vote. It could be that more people would have preferred anyone else.
(The results are unknown as this is written, and the Canvass Board won't meet until Friday to certify any vote count.)
The choice to conduct an election in this fashion robs the electorate of a chance to effectively voice their preference. A runoff election would better gauge the peoples' preference, but that would require the expense and hassle of holding a second election.
It is possible to allow the voters to state their preferences and leave enough instructions after one trip to the polls that several rounds of runoff elections could be conducted on paper.
With ranked choice voting or RCV, each voter would have had the opportunity to state not only who they would most like to be mayor but also who they would choose if their first choice were eliminated in one of the runoff rounds.
If we had the money and patience to do a thorough job of polling, we might go through several rounds of runoffs. First, we'd hold an initial election. If one candidate received a majority of the votes, that person would be declared the new mayor and we'd be done. Otherwise, we'd eliminate the weakest candidates and go to the polls again.
Even those whose candidate was eliminated would have a chance to make a second choice. Each successive round, we'd eliminate one candidate and re-poll until a clear victor emerged.
If need be, we'd finally arrive at a head-to-head match-up between two candidates.
But no need to head to the polls repeatedly. Simply by allowing each voter to designate a first, second and third choice, it is possible to hold several rounds of runoff elections on paper until a clear winner emerges.
Please, let's move on to something less ambiguous than what we have now.