To the Editor…

by on October 30, 2013

Dear Editor,
As Randy Shaw recently pointed out, voter turnout in municipal elections is in decline. And those who do make it to the polls are highly unrepresentative of the population as a whole. In its recent primary election, New York City had a mere 20% turnout of enrolled Democrats and Republicans. Because no candidate for Public Advocate received 40% of the vote, the race resulted in an expensive runoff election with even lower participation. Boston and Seattle are also holding runoffs for their mayoral elections, as no candidate won a majority of the vote in the first round. In Boston, the top two finishers received a combined 35% of the vote.

Cities need to implement practical solutions for these problems. One option is ranked choice voting, a system in which voters rank their choices in order of preference. With this system, runoffs happen instantaneously. The result: no expensive runoff elections with low turnout and unrepresentative results. Cities can also pass right to vote resolutions, which spur citywide dialogue about what it means to vote and be civically engaged. These resolutions establish right to vote taskforces to examine electoral practices and policies within a city and make practical recommendations for improving voter participation. Learn more at and
The article:

Patricia Hart

Filed under: Letters to the Editor