Cure for Low Turnout

By John Anderson
Published October 29th 2002 in New York Times

In assessing this year's Congressional elections (Week in Review, Oct. 27), you conclude that we should again expect low voter turnout because the major political parties increasingly mimic each other during campaigns, "giving voters a choice between beige and brown."

Events since my independent presidential campaign in 1980 have only reinforced my belief in the need to reform politics to expand viable choices across the spectrum. As long as we have two-choice, winner-take-all elections where the winner must be all things to at least half the people, today's marketing technology and expertise will make most campaigns a distasteful concoction of poll-driven sound bites, negative attacks and avoidance of important issues.

It's time to adopt instant runoff voting to give independents and alternative parties a chance to compete without being "spoilers," and time to begin a national dialogue about the many forms of proportional representation, in which political minorities can win a fair share of legislative seats.

John B. Anderson
President, Center for Voting and Democracy
Takoma Park, Md., Oct. 28, 2002