The reality of bullet voting has finally surfaced in Culver City and it is not a pretty sight.
Bullet voting is a campaign tactic in which the candidate’s supporters “encourage” voters to only vote for one candidate, despite the option to vote for 2 or more other candidates. A voter might do this either because (a) it is easier than evaluating all the candidates (b) as a form of tactical voting, (c) they are being told to do so.
If enough voters bullet vote, almost any voting system functions like a plurality voting system. This is generally considered a poor result by most people – except of course the candidate and his/her supporters advancing this tactic.
I read with interest Scott Zeidman’s comments on this issue, and George Lasse’s analysis of the bullet voting statistics in the recent School Board Election. I have witnessed the disturbing affects of bullet voting used at the Democratic Club candidate endorsement meetings and during the last 10 years of elections.
It’s clear that in Culver City, certain supporters and candidates have been working diligently to encourage bullet voting. This example is painfully apparent in the recent School Board election, and most certainly in the last City Council election.
For example consider the situation where there is a bloc election for two seats of the same office, and there are several candidates (say A, B, and C). Voters in such a situation typically have two votes. Candidate A and his supporters encourages his/her voters to vote only for him/her and not use their second vote. They believe that if the second vote is cast for B or C, it helps A’s opponents, and their “win for their chosen candidate at any cost” strategy cannot accept there are other, equally, or more qualified candidates.
Although not illegal, it is a way that certain groups can make sure that their one candidate is elected, to the detriment of other qualified candidates and the offices to which they are being elected.
It feels to me it is highly unethical, and extremely damaging to Culver City. At the very least it diminishes the value of voting in Culver City.
Out of 40,000 residents, only 5-6,000 people vote in the Council election and 2-4,000 in the School Board Election. That is a small group of people electing our officials. Now, when a candidate and his/her campaign committee determines that it must win at any cost and encourages voters to bullet vote through fear tactics or other types of persuasion, the election process is warped and corrupted. Then you do not in any way get elected officials who will have the skill, must less the interest, in working with all of the people. This type of election grabbing is merely a move to garner power, not to properly represent all the people of Culver City.
The message to voters should be don’t let people tell you that you can only vote for one person, or the other person is going to win anyway, so you should only vote for one person to make sure they win. That kind of voter manipulation is corrupt and damaging to Culver City.
I am disgusted by these tactics and I encourage every voter to vote for each and every open office, whether you have 1 or 3 votes available. That is the way we, as voters, wanted it when we ratified the new charter, and that is the way it should be!