Opinion » Editorial

Vote No on All Three November Election Referenda

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We have said all this before, but if there is one maxim regarding the process of communication worth trusting, it is that nothing benefits a message like repetition. This is as valid about falsehoods as it is about truths. Witness only the role of rote in the command psychology of ruling entities, whether fictional, as in George Orwell's classic dystopian epic, 1984, or in reality, as in "Make America Great Again."

It helps to repeat positive messages, too, and, while the Flyer has, from its beginning, held to a policy of non-endorsement of candidates at election time, we have made no secret of our attitude toward public policies that we deem of crucial importance to our readership.

Ed Ford
  • Ed Ford

We have, for example, deplored the apparently organized reluctance of three Memphis City Council members, elected to other positions in Shelby County government on August 2nd, to resign their council seats so as to permit their constituents, via a call for special election, to have a direct voice in their replacement. The train has left the station on that one — thanks to inaction from the newly installed Probate Court clerk Bill Morrison, Juvenile Court clerk Janis Fullilove, and Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr. — leaving it to the other 10 members of the council, not the electorate, to choose their successors.

Actually, in one case there may be a silver lining of sorts. The chairman of the Shelby County Commission, Van Turner, has hit upon the expedient of asking Commissioner/Councilman Ford to serve as a kind of liaison between the two bodies for the next several weeks, and Ford, whose abilities we do not doubt, has apparently tackled the obligation with some industry and in good faith, helping to arrange agreed-upon solutions to issues of joint city/county jurisdiction. In any case, the matter is beyond our control.

We can be somewhat more pro-active about three issues on the November 6th ballot, advising that, if enacted, they would fill a void somewhere between the mischievous and the venal. We refer to three referenda before city voters — one being a re-vote on the process called Ranked Choice Voting (alternately: Instant Runoff Voting); another eliminating runoff voting altogether; and a third, establishing term limits for the council and mayor at three four-year terms, in lieu of the current two-term limit.

All three, we think, either fail to advance the public interest, refute the public will, or are designed to be incumbent-friendly in a way that discourages free choice by the electorate. Or all of the above. The people have already voted, and by resounding margins, to establish Ranked Choice Voting (which eliminates the need for runoffs but allows for a rational and fair way to designate election winners in such cases), and the County Election Administrator has already set up the machinery for RCV in the 2019 city election. And a previous referendum limiting council members to two terms passed handily; the proposed referendum would actually expand council terms.

A "no" vote on all three referenda is the only way to affirm the freely offered judgment of the electorate, already rendered.

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