Letters to the editor: Jan. 29, 2024

On primaries, party politics and polling

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Downplaying danger

As a fellow human also “seeking a peaceful world,” I just wanted to say a couple things regarding Charlie Danaher’s expressions about “Destroying Democracy” (Jan. 18, 2024).

I noticed that he said he supports “rational conversation” yet uses emotionally loaded words like “madness, ridiculous, get real, good grief, how pathetic, damn, insanity and witch hunt.” Let’s calmly consider that what is really destroying democracy are not the occasional biased judges on many supreme courts, but the influence of money on politics and the selling out of the courage and honor to stand up for principles, truth and humanity.

I also want to point out that, if we’re going to “get real,” on Jan. 6, 2021, a large group of individuals did arm themselves (resulting in murder and permanent injury) and forced their way into the Capitol building with the intention of preventing the execution of law (in this case the peaceful transfer of power to the newly democratically elected President of the U.S.), which absolutely fits Mr. Danaher’s dictionary definition of insurrection. Yet he just wants to call it “outrageous and unacceptable.” 

Whether this insurrection was directly a result of the one speech earlier in the day is uncertain. But “have we lost any ability” to remember all the speeches made in the six years previous to Jan. 6 by the candidate and then president? 

Hopefully, the cumulative effect (on a democracy) of all those speeches, plus the ones in the years since Jan. 6, is becoming more clear.

— R. Lawrence, Boulder

Primaries, plurality and pizza

Primaries are a private race. Parties use primary ballots to advertise their respective parties. Elections operations are paid for with public money. Even non-voters are paying for these private contests.

Uncontested incumbents appear on primary ballots. Is this information or campaigning? Whatever it is, it is a waste of space, time and public money. Running elections is labor heavy and not cheap. Bloated ballots increase costs.

In the past decade, voters have experienced Approval and Ranked Choice voting methods, which greatly differ from the method we have not enjoyed for 240 years. By using any voting method that permits more than one choice of preferred candidates for a single office, we can ditch primaries altogether. We could move up the date of the general election to closer to the current primary date, electing new officers months before the present terms expire. 

The media can focus on other real and present dangers, other than the theatrics of the political domain.Big media thrives on a never-ending election cycle for easy studio reporting and talking head spin. Odds makers occupy all of the space, betting on small margins in featured contests. This would drastically change if the plurality method was replaced with a multiple choice method.

Multiple choice ballots have a distinct effect on squelching negative messaging. When voters have more choices, more candidates appear interested. This may diminish party influence. 

Approval voting lets you vote for more than one candidate, and the clerk simply counts all of the votes. Seven friends are ordering two pizzas; toppings are naturally approval voting with a show of hands. I have the liberty to get anchovies separately. 

— Paul Tiger, Longmont

Better election data needed

We hear a lot of polling and now primary data that reports the percentage of votes a candidate receives or the percentage of people who would vote for a candidate. What seems to be missing is some proportional context. 

Many voters here in Colorado are unaffiliated. Where is their representation in these polls? During primaries, when a candidate receives a certain number of their own party’s votes, what percent of the region’s registered voters’ does this represent? Even though unaffiliated voters are able to participate in a primary of their choosing, how many actually do? 

Some nice graphs showing the total number of votes cast along with the percentage the candidate received within their own party, compared to this total voter number, would give a more realistic picture of how many voters it takes to bring a candidate to the final polls. Maybe even more eligible voters would participate if the conversation included a more balanced representation of all voters. 

See you at the polls!

— Annette Treufeldt-Franck, Nederland