Katrina vanden Heuvel’s “Bring Democracy Home” [Nov. 20] should be on the desk of every House and Senate member and every state government official and on the minds of every concerned citizen. It is time that citizens, rather than corporate toadies, determine the direction of our nation!
Mackinaw City, Mich.
Katrina vanden Heuvel’s ten suggestions for reforming our democracy are excellent. Let’s consider one more, namely, a requirement that to win an election, one must receive a majority of the votes. If no candidate receives a majority in the first round, a runoff would take place–either a delayed runoff, as is done in many Latin American countries, or an instant runoff, like that in use in Vermont and San Francisco. Voters rank their candidates from first to last, and if no winner emerges in the first round, the voters whose first choice received the fewest votes have their second choice redistributed. This process continues until one candidate receives a majority (see www.instantrunoff.com).
Stony Brook, NY
Katrina vanden Heuvel’s suggestion that instant-runoff voting will “end the duopoly” is wrong. The four countries that have used IRV for five or more years are two-party dominated in IRV seats (exactly why Australian third parties are trying to get rid of IRV). Fusion will not do so (it has been used in New York State since forever) and recently the “great white hope” Kevin Zeese ran for the Maryland Senate under the “revolutionary” new “fusion unity strategy” (Libertarian, Green and Populist) collecting… 1 percent of the vote. Vanden Heuvel’s third suggestion (proportional representation) would indeed work, but its constitutionality is questionable, to say the least.
I recommend the simpler and better “range voting” system: Your vote is a score on a 0-to-9 scale for every candidate–highest average wins. It works on every voting machine now (no reprogramming needed); it should break the duopoly; it eliminates the “spoiler” effect; voting is never worse than not voting; and raising your score for somebody cannot hurt them (see RangeVoting.org).
WARREN D. SMITH
One important voting method was missing from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s list: the one now used in (the ever-progressive state of) Oregon: Vote by Mail. No failing machines, mechanical or electronic; no waiting in line in the cold, the dark, the rain; no hanging chads! The polling place is the mailbox. If you procrastinate and don’t make the mail in time, there are drop-off places. It’s convenient, efficient, fraud-free and encourages getting out the vote.