Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Can you count to three? Or, the grumpy voter

We voted today in the first Minneapolis election to use instant runoff, or what the City prefers to call ranked choice, voting. They say the term "ranked choice" more accurately describes it. Maybe so, but I suspect it doesn't matter what they call it, just as it doesn't matter how well they design the ballots or how plainly they explain it. Some people hate change almost as much as they hate reading directions, even when those directions are brief, clear, and illustrated.

At least that's what Martin and I observed when we went to the polls today. A woman was at the table unhappily returning her ballot for a new one because she had voted for her three Park Board candidates in one column, even though the ballot clearly indicates that you vote for one candidate in each of the three columns. There are three at-large seats for the Park Board, you see, and so all three were her first choice. The election judge patiently repeated the directions, and the woman said, with a tone of exasperation, "So this ballot is ruined, then?" Not to worry, the official assured her, you can have a new ballot. And they took her mismarked ballot and gave her a new one.

"Who came up with this stupid idea, anyway?" she demanded. The voters, explained the official. "I mean who designed this ballot, it's just stupid," she persisted. Listening to this, I just couldn't imagine any way that the ballot could have been designed that would have been simpler. I wanted to answer, "Someone who can count to three." But I didn't.

Later, as Martin and I were feeding our ballots to the voting machine and collecting our jaunty red "I Voted" stickers, this same grumpy woman also turned in her ballot and then declined a sticker. "I'm not proud to have voted," she grumbled, muttering something again about how stupid it all was.

Don't you just love democracy?


  1. Some folks just want to grumble about everything don't they? More and more I realize that happiness is a choice. And it makes life so much more enjoyable than the alternative.
    Gave a great day Sharon.

  2. True. Although I was amused to hear some people call our new ballots "rankled" choice voting. I guess that's a pretty good description, for some, anyway!


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