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Letter: Reforms needed to ensure fair elections, voter participation

Letter: Reforms needed to ensure fair elections, voter participation

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Voting in St. Louis

Steve Allbright of St. Louis votes on Tuesday April 6, 2021, in the 12th Ward at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in the city's Mayoral election. The ballot also includes several measures proposed by the Metropolitan Sewer District to pay for infrastructure upgrades. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Columnist Lynn Schmidt did a good job explaining why partisan primaries allow the most extreme candidates to win elections (“Primaries are the primary reason why American elections are screwed up,” June 2). The current system also squashes the desires of some voters to participate. Many qualified citizens don’t register or turn out on Election Day, saying they don’t think their vote matters.

Members of the League of Women Voters support the voting reforms Schmidt suggested: ranked-choice or final-five voting. Either would provide broader voter representation than our current system.

We also supported Proposition D that St. Louis city voters approved in 2020 and successfully used this spring. A nonpartisan primary was followed by a top-two runoff in April. The city’s outdated voting machines wouldn’t work with the more popular reform of ranked-choice voting but did accommodate the approval-voting system.

After careful study of alternative voting systems, the League of Women Voters didn’t pick a favorite. We support electoral methods that lead to an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive to voters. When considering any new electoral system, education of the voting public is important as well as funding for the switch.

At its recent state convention, the League of Women Voters of Missouri approved a new position to support electoral systems at each level of government that encourage participation, are verifiable and auditable, and enhance representation for all voters. Let’s look at all options that give voters a greater voice.

Angie Dunlap • St. Louis County

President, League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis

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