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Letter to the Editor

Ranked choice nothing is like casino night at the polls

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To the editor: This is in response to the two letters to the editor that were defending ranked choice voting. Some members on the Assembly are moving at lightning speed to pass ordinance 2021-17, ranked choice voting for Assembly seats.

Note that three seats are up for elections in October. Ranked choice voting hijacks our proven system of electing officials based upon careful voter research of candidates. It changes a system that works into a potential stacked deck numbers game where the desired popular front runners in the end most often will not be elected. Many places have rolled it back when they got buyer’s remorse. An example was given in one letter of a three-way race, which would have a large chance of ending up as the author stated if the candidates were that easily identifiable.

In borough races we often end up with up to six candidates, some of whom don’t even participate in the forums and questionnaires that are sent out. In the Anchorage mayoral race there were 15 candidates. Tie the large number of candidates in with the fact that many voters don’t have any idea on how the different candidates will treat the issues and this leads to very hard choices on how to rank people. It looks even worse when people discover after some strange election that the math is not clear-cut; many times you end up in ranked choice voting with the winner not getting the majority of the votes cast and it’s even possible to hurt your preference by voting a higher number for them.

There are a lot of real-world examples you can find including a full scientific study on a number of them that shows that the math often doesn’t work out as the voter would expect. That study showed that in all four cases it looked at, the winner received less than the majority of votes.

Although they will try to pass ordinance 2021-17 this Thursday night, I hope the Assembly will wait until Alaska tests RCV in 2022 so that Fairbanksans can have real-world experience before making that choice.

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