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Reader's View: Ranked voting offers real choice

Roughly 40 percent of Americans who were eligible to vote in the last presidential election stayed home. Among voters ages 18 to 29, Hillary Clinton was much preferred, but fewer than half of them cast a ballot. And Donald Trump won the presidency because of about 75,000 ballots in three states.

Those eye-popping statistics reported by the New York Times last month tell the story of American apathy about voting, especially among the young. If you care about democracy, you have to ask, "Why?" Like most things, it's complicated; but I believe a lot of the apathy has to do with the way our system forces people to vote. Instead of allowing us to rank candidates in order of preference, we must make one definitive choice even if we'd be comfortable with a range of candidates.

A brief look at today's DFL primary ballot makes this obvious. There are many qualified candidates in races for Congress, governor, and attorney general — so many candidates, in fact, that people I talked to have expressed worry that if they vote for their preferred candidate they might actually support their least favorite candidate. That's the dreaded "spoiler effect."

Others have pointed out — as the July 24 letter, "Ranked-choice voting offers clear results," did — that whoever prevails may do so with as little as 25 percent or 35 percent of the vote.

I just wish I could rank my ballot. If we used ranked-choice voting — like Maine just did for its primary in June or like Minneapolis and St. Paul do for their city elections — we would elect officials with a majority of support. Voters could vote their hearts. And we'd say goodbye to the spoiler effect.

Let's get voters back to the polls by giving them real choice. Let's adopt ranked-choice voting statewide.

Karen L. Dingle