I'VE MADE A DIFFICULT DECISION. i'm recommending mark ritchie.
[The following was posted on my home page on November 1, 2006.]
I’ve made a difficult decision.
I’m recommending that undecided voters cast their ballot for Mark Ritchie for Minnesota Secretary of State.
I’m not going to win. That’s pretty clear.
An independent campaign like mine needs free media to get legs. The Star Tribune had two long articles about the Secretary of State race and never even mentioned my name. I was excluded from the full-length televised debate because I’m not in a major party. Same with the MPR radio debate.
I’ve devoted the last six years in my life to the goal of bringing instant runoff voting (IRV) to Minnesota and America. This campaign was in part to further that cause. But we don’t have instant runoff voting yet. A candidate can win without a majority.
I’ve known for several years that Mary Kiffmeyer is not a good Secretary of State. She lacks “people skills” with her own employees and the election officials around the state that she is coordinating. And a Secretary of State should be so ridiculously fair-minded that members of his or her own party get frustrated and say hey, you shouldn’t be so fair. And fairness should extend to all aspects of the election process, not just voting.
I’ve detailed on this web site how she doesn’t meet these standards. Her distortion of the turnout statistics is just a recent example. The exploitation of perennial candidate Dick Franson is another. These events, along with her continued misrepresentation of IRV, have led me to conclude that she needs to lose this election.
Mark Ritchie has a different way of looking at things than I do, but he clearly has a more positive and collaborative style than Mary Kiffmeyer. That will hold him in good stead with his employees, with the other public officials around the state that he will need to work with, and with the candidates and parties. He's a hard worker. And while Mary Kiffmeyer sabotaged IRV, even discouraging Republicans from voting for a simple trial in Roseville, Mark Ritchie’s views have come closer to mine. When he began this campaign, he had a general curiosity about IRV, but wasn’t tuned in to all the critical details and issues with getting it enacted and implemented. Since then, he has learned a lot from my presentations and arguments, has gotten involved with the Minneapolis Better Ballot Campaign, and has increased his appreciation of the importance of IRV. I am now satisfied that he will be a strong voice for this most important improvement to our elections.
And bottom line, he has a good chance to win. I don’t. I’m not endorsing him. But I am recommending to any voters who are undecided to vote for Mark Ritchie.
In American elections, we have what I call the “plurality dilemma.” It comes into play when a voter suspects or realizes that his first choice in a race is not winning. Where there are four candidates, three of which are good and one terrible, the voter realizes that the majority could split among the three good candidates, allowing the bad candidate to win with a plurality. (In fact, that is how Mary Kiffmeyer has won each of her elections.) Knowing that “perfect is the enemy of good,” the voter must decide whether to vote for his favorite or for the one candidate of three that is believed to have the best chance. This decision is made more difficult when it is unknown how much support each candidate is likely to have and where suspected weakness of a candidate could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, when people assume a likeable candidate has little chance, they abandon him, even though the candidate was doing better than they thought. To make the right decision for the voter and for the leadership of the state, the voter must consider how close is the election, how close in quality is the second choice to the first, how much worse is the undesirable candidate, etc. I would never say, as some do, that you should just vote for the person you like the best and let the chips fall where they may. The consequence may be that the chips fall on top of you or your children. If so, you can’t indulge yourself with that choice. And yet other times it is important to vote for a hopeless candidate to make a statement that the status quo is unacceptable. This is a moral and ethical dilemma that does not have an easy solution. It is also an unnecessary dilemma, because allowing ranked voting with IRV would eliminate the whole problem.
Republicans, I know some of you cannot bring yourself to vote for any candidate in the DFL party. Then go ahead and vote for me. Don’t vote for Mary Kiffmeyer. She’s already had two terms and has failed to inspire the people who work with her the most that she knows what she’s doing. Work with me on trying to make the chief election official nonpartisan.
Independents, some of you still want to make a strong statement against both major parties. Then go ahead and vote for me, rather than Joel Spoonheim of the Independence Party. His views on most issues are the same as Mark Ritchie’s, and his claim of nonpartisanship is a bit disingenuous since he has been stumping for Peter Hutchinson and the Team Minnesota. (They’re a party too.) I like Joel, and he will make great contributions to Minnesota in the future. But his chance of winning is worse than mine, so if you’re voting just to make a statement, you might as well make that statement with me.
But if you’re concerned about Kiffmeyer winning again, go ahead and vote for Mark Ritchie. He has the best chance to defeat her.
I will continue to fight for instant runoff voting, so situations like this never occur again. It’s not fair to be forced to vote defensively.
I will also draft a bill for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the office of Secretary of State, and I will work for that if I can find a legislator who has enough courage to author the bill.
I will also work on a proposal to remove elections from the duties of the Secretary of State. I will be most likely to promote that if the winner of this election has less than a majority again. If the incumbent can’t get more than 50% of the vote after two terms, that’s a clear signal that the majority of voters does not want her in charge of elections.
I hope my supporters understand and do not feel betrayed by my decision. Many of you have contributed in big and small ways to my effort. The disappointments are vivid now, but perhaps some seeds were planted that will grow to enhance our democracy. Thank you everyone.
For those of you who have only now been introduced to me, I hope you will take a few minutes and look around my website. It really is fun and interesting. Here are some of the features: