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How ranked-choice voting can cure the ills of California's 'jungle' primary

How ranked-choice voting can cure the ills of California's 'jungle' primary
A polling place in Fresno on election day, Nov. 2, 2010. (Mark Crosse / MCT)

To the editor: Whenever similar candidates flood a top-two "jungle" primary, their like-minded voters may spread their votes thin among the similar candidates, letting candidates from a smaller group, one that's less popular overall, walk off with both general-election ballot slots. Harold Meyerson rightly points to the need for "a winnowing process" before a top-two primary. ("California's 'jungle' primary system could blow up in the Democratic Party's face," Opinion, Jan. 30)

Civic groups advocate something that makes orderly winnowing automatic: using ranked choice voting (RCV).

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RCV provides for eliminating one candidate at a time, while letting voters say who gets their support next if their top choices don't make a runoff.

Without RCV, the best an "unruly" party can hope for when several of its members are running in a top-two election is that candidates who find themselves lagging in the polls drop out and work in support of other party members. Candidates don't often step aside, but perhaps many of them should.

David A. Holtzman, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Meyerson rightly points out the drawbacks in California's top-two primary system, but he fails to elaborate on the biggest elephant in the election process room: the elimination of many restrictions on campaign funding.

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United ruling in 2010, the Koch brothers or any other wealthy interests will continue to unduly tilt the electoral scales. Until there is meaningful campaign finance reform, elected offices will persist in being bought by the biggest donors, regardless of a candidate's qualifications or loyalties.

Sharie Hartman, Oxnard

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