Ali Chechem Ali in SW News Media:
At first blush you may be merely frustrated that 52.5% of Shakopee voted for a progressive candidate but because of the vote-splitting spoiler effect, Republican Erik Mortenson will represent our community in St. Paul.
But in truth, rage may be a more appropriate emotion than frustration as it has become clear that what happened in Shakopee was no fluke; exploitation of the spoiler effect to allow unrepresentative candidates to win without majority support was a full-fledged tactic of certain conservative political operatives this year.
Some of the evidence is in broad daylight. Legal Marijuana Now candidate for U.S. Congressional District 2, Adam Weeks, directly admitted that he was paid $15,000 by conservative operatives to run in an attempt to draw votes away from Democrat Angie Craig. It worked but not quite enough, as Craig still won.
Other evidence is compelling but needs further exploration. Legal Marijuana Now candidate for MN Senate District 27, Tyler Becvar, was an outspoken Trump supporter, does not publicly advocate for marijuana legalization, and said of his decision to run: “Why not? F**k it. It cost me a hundred bucks. I’ve spent a hundred bucks on a lot dumber stuff.” It worked; the majority of SD27 voted for a progressive but they are now represented by a Republican (of course, this also swung the Minnesota Senate).
These tactics are disgusting. Elections should be won with ideas. They should be won with vision. They should be won by candidates that unify and best represent their voters. These are not partisan perspectives they are core tenets of our political philosophy. To allow spoiler effect manipulation degrades our faith in our elections.
Of course, there is a solution: ranked-choice voting.
Among its virtues, ranked-choice voting completely eliminates the spoiler effect. It allows voters to express top preference for a niche or minor party candidate (Libertarian? Independence? Green?) without “wasting” their vote or “spoiling” the election for the candidate they prefer between the top two vote-getters. That dynamic in turn encourages more candidates to run giving voters more really choices on their ballots.
Elections should allow voters to fully express themselves and they should be won by those most representative of the voters. With ranked-choice voting we can achieve that.
Here in Shakopee the voice of the majority will not be heard in the Minnesota House this coming session, and so I have to speak to all in the Legislature: it is time to pass ranked-choice voting for statewide races.
Ali Chehem Ali
Rank Your Vote is a project of FairVote Minnesota, a nonprofit, nonpartisan election reform organization that engages hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters. Together, we work for a stronger democracy through public education and advocacy for Ranked Choice Voting, a system proven to be more inclusive, democratic, and representative than our current plurality electoral system. We educate and support candidates, elected officials, cities and voters in preparation for RCV elections.