When you only have to select one candidate, it seems simple. But municipal elections have multiple candidates with multiple slots.
And unfortunately, the directions on the ballot only lead to more confusion.
Take our Town Council, for example:
- All five seats on the Town Council are being contested
- The Republican Party is running four candidates
- The Democratic Party is running two candidates
- You want to support only Democratic candidates
- The instructions on the portion of the ballot for Town Council say “Vote for Any Five”
The ultimate answer should be simple: You should vote for as many or as few candidates as you choose.
Unfortunately, “Vote for Any Five” sounds like voters have free choice among the six candidates but must vote for five of the six. It suggests that anything less than five is seemingly unacceptable.
The ballot won't be changed for this election. So how can an Avon resident make sure their vote counts?
The answer is what’s known as a “bullet vote”. It means only voting for the candidates you want to see elected. To do otherwise is to fall into the trap set by the poor ballot instructions and serves to help the very candidates a voter does not want to see elected.
Here’s how things can go awry if you do not bullet vote.
- Take 1200 Democratic voters each of whom vote for the two Democratic candidates. Thinking they must vote for five, they then evenly split their remaining three votes over the four Republican candidates.
- Thus, just from Democratic voters, the two Democratic candidates each receive 1200 votes and the four Republican candidates each receive 900 votes.
- Now, take 1200 Republican voters each of whom vote for the four Republican candidates and then evenly split their remaining one vote between the two Democrat candidates.
- Thus, the four Republican candidates each receive 1200 votes from Republican voters and the two Democratic candidates each receive 600 votes.
- Thus, with the same number of voters from each party -- the Republican candidates win in a landslide with each receiving 2100 votes and each Democratic candidate receiving 1800 votes.
Here’s why bullet voting is best. If both parties' bullet vote:
- Each of the Democratic candidates gets 1200 votes, all from Democratic voters;
- Each of the Republican candidates gets 1200 votes, all from Republican voters;
- None of the candidates gets any unintentional votes due to confusion.
In that instance, the outcome of the Town Council election is not due to poor instructions or funky math, but simply a function of the number of voters each party can get to the polls.
A bullet voter is a smarter, more empowered voter who maximizes the impact of their votes on the candidates they prefer. Anything else is undemocratic.
Until the legislature fixes the confusing ballots,
an educated voter needs to make sure they are giving their preferred candidate
the best shot.
For Democrats, that means ONLY voting for Democratic candidates in the upcoming election.