Plurality voting muddles the picture
Regarding your Nov. 6 article "If everyone voted, results would be ... the same?": Electoral reformers have focused their energies on campaign finance and on developing voting machines less susceptible to the maladies that have, for example, plagued chads in Florida. Unfortunately, the problems with US elections are not so easily fixed. The primary deficiency in the US is its fundamental procedure: plurality voting.
Plurality voting may be adequate for two-person races, but in multicandidate races it can easily lead to voter paradoxes, such as vote splitting that produces outcomes unintended by a large segment of voters. For years, research has been showing how other voting systems are superior to plurality voting according to such criteria as aggregating or measuring the intensity of voter preferences.
As voter dissatisfaction increases, research on alternative voting systems will find its way into the hands of serious electoral reformers. Don't be surprised if the coming years see increasing public interest in alternatives to plurality voting such as instant runoff voting (used in Australia and Ireland), Borda voting (used to rank college football and basketball teams), and approval voting (used to capture the intensity of voter preferences).
In response to "If everyone voted, results would be ... the same?": Indeed. But your article makes a minor mythical point and avoids a key factor: the Electoral College. In Florida, many believe President Bush bought the election. Are we satisfied with a structure that permits an elite to choose, quite in opposition to the will of the people? I am not.
Regarding the Nov. 4 Opinion piece "Where have all the voters gone?": Thomas Patterson is correctly concerned that so few Americans vote. But citizens who are aware of the issues and candidates are the ones who should vote. An intelligent, engaged, and educated electorate is essential for the preservation of liberty in our great land.
Making it easier and easier to vote would bring more of the lazy and uneducated into the voting process; it is intellectually dishonest to believe this is good for our nation.
In response to your Nov. 5 article "Conversion to immersion": Having taught English in schools in the Dominican Republic for the past 15 years, I would say many of our students are more literate in English than students in the US who learn in Spanish-speaking programs.
Educators are beginning to realize this method segregates rather than integrates. If children are literate in their own language, use it to help them with their transition. Give Latinos the same opportunities offered to my German ancestors 60 years ago. Teach them how to become part of the world they are living in. Teach them English.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Regarding "Conversion to immersion": The public schools in Lawrence, Mass., have suffered from more than benign neglect over the past 10 years they receive additional government funding because of their level of poverty. Lack of professional training, support, and philosophy have hindered the teaching of thousands of students. Learning English is essential, but it is wise to give parents choice in how their children should be schooled. Most children will not be able to complete a one-year immersion program in English and be successful learners commensurate with their grade level.
Margarita M. Muñiz
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