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Legislators vs. Voters

I am grateful for every voter that cast a ballot for the Vallivue bond last week. And I’m grateful for all who gathered information, prepared videos and graphs, or contacted voters. You have increased the opportunities of every Vallivue student.

I don’t have any kids or grandkids in Vallivue schools, but I’m glad the bond passed. I come from a family of teachers who know that kids need a firm foundation to build on year after year and need to know that adults believe in their worth and their future.


Wednesday morning an email from Education News stated, “Kevin Richert writes that ‘repeat’ school bond issues and levies passed in six school districts. Will that raise the ire of lawmakers?”


I know Reichert is right to raise the question–several legislators still resent Idahoans passing Medicaid expansion. But individuals in public office shouldn’t get angry when people express their will.


Repeat bond elections might be a problem if the opposition got too worn out to continue. But that isn’t what happens. Look at the Vallivue numbers. In January 2022, the vote was 1,345 to 744; in August 2022, 2,489 to 1,299; and last week, 3,589 to 1,451.


The number of those against the bond nearly doubled—while the number for it increased over 2.5 times. More–not less–people made the effort to get informed and get to the polls.

That’s democracy.


And thinking of how little some legislators value voters’ rights, I realized how important Reclaim Idaho’s initiative to end the closed Republican primary is.

In choosing an initiative supporting ranked-choice voting, Reclaim Idaho is tackling the root problem that gives us legislators who believe they were chosen to govern their constituents, not represent them.


Ranked-choice means that voters rank each candidate–first choice through last choice. Votes for the last-place candidate are divided among voters' next choices until one candidate has over 50% of the vote.

You’d think Republicans would be clamoring for ranked-choice voting after the election of Janice McGeachen in 2018. In a five-way primary race McGeachen won 51,098 to 125,991–and spent the next four years embarrassing Idaho and the Republican party.


Yet, Republicans passed a law last session (HB 179) forbidding any government agency in Idaho from using ranked-choice voting. (Twenty-three Utah cities use it.)


Democratic opposition to that ban has led some to say that ranked-choice would help Democrats. Republicans are more apt to arguethat voters are challenged enough deciding on a first choice without having to rank them all.


What ranked-voting actually does is to take away the advantage a single extremist has when a number of opponents split the moderate vote.


And it frees citizens to vote for the person they really want.


The one-choice method makes who has a chance to win of more importance than who we’d prefer.


In 2000 members of the Green Party felt free to vote for Ralph Nader in states where Democrats had a majority, but had to recognize the danger of not voting for Al Gore in swing states. George Bush won when the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount when he was 537 votes ahead of Gore.

Nader received 97,421 votes in Florida that year.


This pressure to vote for someone who has a chance to win–whether Democrat or Republican–is real for every independent or third party member.

With ranked voting, minority parties will know how many people voted for their candidate before he or she was eliminated They could target where to field candidates.

No, ranked choice voting doesn’t help a major party–it helps voters.


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