Why are Nebraskans seeing so many negative ads from candidates?
Because Nebraska uses a winner-take-all ballot system for electing officials, meaning that in a fractured (multiple candidate) field, a candidate can win even if opposed by most voters.
With the stakes being so high, and the system such that a candidate simply must squeak by their opponents to be elected, the system rewards candidates for campaigning negatively.
That negativity may cause voters to withdraw support for the candidate being attacked, the candidate who is attacking, or choosing not to vote all-together. What voters may not see is that it is the system, rather than the candidates, that prompts this almost barbaric campaign atmosphere.
By instituting an instant runoff, or ranked choice system, candidates would be concerned with being voters’ second choice. This creates incentive for them to reach out beyond their base and seek to be the second and third choices of their opponents’ supporters.
Platforms would be tailored to the needs of the voters rather than attacking opponents.
In a multi-candidate field with a ranked choice ballot a candidate would be less likely to win by focusing on discrediting opponents.
Also, I have been warning for some time that the winner-take-all ballot (and no run-off election) will result in weak, plurality winners from this May 13 primary, not majority winners.
As it is, a plurality of a minority is likely to dictate who our next U.S. Senator and Governor will be.
If we as voters say we believe in the will of the majority, then we need to enforce that belief in our elections. Instant runoff/ranked choice voting will achieve this for us. I urge all Nebraskans to research the advantages of this superior method of voting and petition our elected officials to allow its use in our elections.
By Larry R. Bradley, Omaha