Open Primaries letter to Seattle City Council

Yesterday the Seattle City Council formally approved sending its own proposal for voting reform, ranked-choice voting, to the November ballot as an alternative to Initiative 134, approval voting. But earlier in the day, the Council received a letter from a voting-rights advocacy group, Open Primaries, laying out an argument as to why the Council should have stayed out of it altogether.

It is generally believed that approval voting tends to favor more moderate candidates than the current system or ranked-choice voting. Thus the Council’s progressive wing could be viewed as acting in their own interests by advocating for ranked-choice, potentially increasing their own chances for getting re-elected.

Open Primaries argued in its letter that partisan manipulation of voting procedures is one of the most politically corrosive issues today, decreasing trust in government, increasing voter cynicism, and discouraging people from voting in some cases. They wrote:

This is not about a preference, it is about the process. Ironically, if you send two measures to the ballot in response to citizens petitioning for one, you will be doing a grave disservice to the ranked choice voting movement, which is gaining popularity at the state and local level. If people see ranked choice voting as a tool used by politicians to derail other voting reforms such as approval voting, not as a genuine reform in and of itself, that will impact negatively. Don’t pit these two alternative voting systems against each other. That kind of political manipulation is a) beneath a highly regarded and progressive City Council and b) why so many Americans are cynical about the process.
40,000 Seattle residents signed petitions. Let them vote. Don’t use cynical tactics to divide and derail.


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