Now that we have ranked choice voting in Minneapolis, not everyone’s thrilled with having so many choices. The media feel “forumed to death” while regular people are still saying they don’t have enough information about the candidates to make a choice.
Scientific research shows the human brain can only retain three or four items at once, maybe seven if they can easily be split into memorizable sets of three or four. So it make sense that attempts to distinguish between candidates focus on “their top three issues” or “answers to four key questions.” If they all take basically the same politically correct stand on these three or four, they become indistinguishable. Multiply that by the number of races one should care about. It’s no wonder voters are fatigued.
Unrelated, there was an effort earlier this year, which may make headlines in 2018 when it would ideally be put to a vote, to switch Minneapolis municipal elections to the same years as presidential elections. This would mean having voters use a traditional ballot for the national races and a ranked choice ballot for the local races.
What these two ideas have in common is they’re efforts to increase voter turnout. Ranked choice attempts to let people who don’t like the apparent top two candidates have a voice, or have more people feel like their votes counted, in races where favor was more dispersed. Moving to presidential election years works with the statistics of those years having more voter turnout…and that the “off” years tend to attract older, whiter voters in a society where old and white is getting to be the minority.
What’s next? Maybe changing all elections to take place in warmer weather? Global warming is gradually taking care of that. Even in balmy May or September, again thanks to climate change, there could just as easily be monsoons as there is now the potential for bitter, snowy cold.
Some voters take fatigue into their own hands, decide to vote early and then say they can’t do anything about it even if they get new information.
We encourage eligible voters to continue, even though it seems to be increasingly hard, to make informed choices and do vote, to not give up, give in, or give away that right and privilege. If stands on the issues don’t seem clear, vote based on something else.
We suggest two criteria: 1.) How well do they seem to play with others…who pays attention to the other candidates during a forum? Whose literature attacks opponents and for what? Do they knock on doors? Advertise? And 2.) Do their promises fit within the power of the office they are seeking? Can a council member put a chicken in every pot? No. Fill every pothole? Yes.
So, decide now to vote, whether early or on November 7. Northeaster coverage of various races is summarized on page 13 in a section that stretches from 11 to 14, including several letters to the editor. In this edition, some information on the Minneapolis mayor race and the First Ward race, which we believe has been the most contentious of them all.
Assuming you will wait until November 7 to vote, plan how to make time and carry through despite potential everyday obstacles.
1.) Start with “when.” If possible vote on the way to work since the workday may go long. Polls close at 8:00 p.m.
2.) Confirm your polling location (if there’s any doubt, go to pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us). How are you going to get there and back to your regularly scheduled chores? If something has to be rearranged, it’s easier to do that ahead of time than an hour before the polls close.
3.) Be sure you’re prepared for any kind of weather so you don’t have to scramble for the winter coat or umbrella.
4.) Make a “Plan B” in case some emergency spoils your original plan.
5.) Involve the family and neighbors, whether it’s bringing the kids, putting one in charge as a sitter, or offering to drive someone who can’t get to the polls on their own.
There’s something both sobering and uplifting about participating in Election Day. Allow yourself to stop and feel it, to reflect on the American experiment that is democracy.