To the editor:

I began your paper’s Oct. 28 editorial, “Our view: Vote no on Question 2,” with great interest, before losing track of what I was reading and staring at a butterfly outside of my window for 10 minutes and then trying to use a salad spinner to make hard boiled eggs. You see, I am one of the many voters who would just be too darn confused for ranked choice voting, and it was validating to see my perspective represented in your paper.

I admit, I was a little concerned when you took two whole paragraphs to explain ranked choice voting in simple, easy-to-understand language. I was afraid the entire thing was a ‘bait-and-switch,’ which I think may be a hockey term of some kind. If even an editorial opposing Question 2 can cogently explain ranking preferred candidates in order, what hope did I have that others would remain as perpetually confused as I?

I was so nervous I had to calm myself with a quick trip to the grocery store, where I looked at a shelf of jelly. They had strawberry, raspberry, and grape. Strawberry is my favorite, raspberry is my second choice, and I don’t like grape. I had enough money for two jars of jelly. In hopeless confusion, I bought the grape, and now my sandwich is sad, but my brain is happy, because your editorial reminded me that the rest of Massachusetts would have been equally dismayed by my dilemma.

After all, ranked choice voting is an esoteric, unfamiliar phenomenon, practiced by those learned democratic sages in (checks notes) Maine. There’s simply no call to assume that Massachusetts would be able to implement the same kind of political wisdom as Maine. All we have going for us are several of the world’s most prestigious universities, a public school system that is the envy of the nation, a robust civic tradition that includes open town meetings, and industry-leading nonpartisan news networks. Maine has the World’s Largest Nonstick Frying Pan. Game, set, and . . . I think it’s basket? Home run? Football is so confusing to me.

On top of this, you also correctly intuited that ranked choice voting would be unnecessary. I couldn’t agree more. What if, just as a hypothetical example, voters were someday presented with a slate of candidates that included a rip-roaring socialist firebrand, a whip-smart Midwestern mayor who was also a veteran with an adorable husband, a good-hearted avuncular pragmatist who loves ice cream and the Rust Belt, a brilliant dynamo with a plan for literally everything, and a badass prosecutor whose withering Senate testimony was almost as awesome as her sneaker collection? I can’t think of anything more unnecessary than having some method of (ugh) ranking them according to my preference.

In short, I want to thank The Salem News for doing its bit to save readers from the headache of being able to vote in a manner that more precisely aligns with their preferences and values. That is not what democracy is all about.

Sarah Thomas



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