A lesson in Strategic Voting 101

Oct 4 • Letters to the EditorNo Comments on A lesson in Strategic Voting 101

Sir: Municipal elections day is fast approaching. I am on record for advocating a change in leadership, at the mayoral level at least, and I stand behind that. Mayor Hope has had three terms to move this community forward and says that his work is not done. I say that Chatham-Kent does not need another four years of standing still, and it’s time for a fresh approach.

Back in May I predicted that we would see a similar race for the mayor’s chair develop to what we have seen in the past – five or six candidates throw their hat in the ring, the vote gets split, and Hope remains mayor of C-K. My suggested strategy to avoid this outcome was strategic voting by the constituents of Chatham-Kent.

Since that time I have had many people ask me how strategic voting works. Given that my prediction was accurate, and the risk of Hope remaining mayor is real, I would offer a crash course 101 on Strategic Voting.

By definition, tactical or strategic voting is an act of supporting another candidate more strongly than your sincere preference in order to prevent an undesirable outcome. In this situation, mine at least, Mayor Hope (Candidate C) would be the “undesirable outcome.” I may think or hope that one or two other candidates – Candidate A or Candidate B – would replace Mayor Hope, but the risk is that as the majority of votes get split across these three candidates and Hope still gets enough votes to win because Candidates A and B split the non-Hope vote. Here is where the strategy comes in.

My “sincerely preferred” candidate may be A, but just because I prefer A does not mean that Candidate A realistically stands the best chance of defeating Hope. It could be that Candidate B is the candidate that realistically has that best chance. So rather than voting for A, I strategically vote for B to achieve my primary objective of replacing Hope. My vote may not result in a win for my “sincerely preferred” candidate, but I will gladly take Option B rather than four more years of Hope. That is how strategic voting works.

Here are a few additional tips to consider when it comes to strategic voting:

  • Make sure you cast your vote. You may not feel strongly about the election or may not have a sincere preference, but not voting is pretty well the same as casting a vote for an encumbent. Trump became president because his voters came out in droves to NOT vote for Hillary Clinton. Don’t ever assume the impossible cannot happen. Every vote helps.
  • Not sure how to determine which candidate has the best chance of defeating Hope? Well, it’s not an exact science, but drive around and count signs. And not signs on public property, but signs on private property. Signs don’t get posted on private property without residents giving their ‘vote’ to the candidate on the sign, and not all these voters can be wrong.
  • What constitutes a good candidate for mayor? Well, I have high respect to those candidates that enter the ring for the first time, for any position – after all, everyone has to start somewhere. I’m thinking though that some council experience goes a long way to a smooth transition into that mayor chair. There is something to be said for “hitting the ground running.”
  • Spread the word about strategic voting. If you feel strongly that a change in mayor is needed, don’t be shy about talking about the subject with friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. Open, honest discussion is not illegal or even unethical, and other people may feel the same way about a change as you but may not have given much thought on how to best achieve the desired outcome and will unwittingly contribute to the same split-vote outcome we have seen in the past.

Rick Youlton




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