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Wintroub gives a nod to Gary Hall’s letter about voting procedures

Dear Editor:

I share Gary Hall’s (Letters to the Editor, The Tomahawk 12/31/14) concerns about voting machines being subject to error and tampering. I also like his suggestions that voting be restricted to those who show up at the polls on Election Day, though I’d make absentee ballot exceptions for the homebound and those who must be out of town on that day. “Early voting”, mail-in ballots, and such undermine the premise of “You tell us during the campaign why we should vote for you, your opponent(s) tell us why we should not vote for you, and we’ll decide after the full campaign whom to vote for.” That premise is based on the possibility that information about a candidate can emerge any time up to the moment a voter casts his vote on Election Day.
However, I don’t believe chicanery with voting machines is nearly the threat to honest elections that plurality voting is. “Plurality voting”, also known as “first past the finish line”, is that practice of declaring The Winner to be the person who got more votes in that race than anybody else got in that race. “Majority voting”, in contrast, is the practice of declaring The Winner to be the person who got 50% of the vote plus 1, i.e., a majority of the votes cast in that race.
As recently as this past August’s county elections, we saw a county mayor elected with just 42.39% of the vote, a county trustee with just 28.38%, a general sessions judge with just 39.53%, a sheriff with just 32.49%, a circuit court clerk with just 45.12%, a register of deeds with just 45.07%, and a road superintendent with just 31.74%. So all these officials were declared The Winner in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the votes were AGAINST each of these “winners”.
So which is the greater threat to the democratic process: the possibility of voting machine error/chicanery or the hard and repeated fact of candidates assuming office despite having been overwhelmingly rejected by the voters?

Terry Wintroub
Mountain City, TN