Posted by Grace Ramsey, Myeisha Boyd on September 01, 2017
Voters across the country are tired of election rules that they feel are rigged against them, and Missouri is no exception. A new campaign is working statewide -- and in cities -- to improve Missouri’s democracy.
Missourians For Fair and Open Elections campaigns for electoral reforms by organizing and fighting for better representation for Missouri’s voters. In cities and across the state, voters are trapped in a two party system that does not fit Missouri’s political realities. By being forced to choose between one party or another, when more than 15% of voters don’t prefer either, voters feel voiceless. By advancing reforms like ranked choice voting and open primaries Missourians for Fair and Open Elections is working to restore power to the voters, not the politicians.
The city of St. Louis had a recent mayoral primary using their outdated system where voters choose one candidate and whoever gets the most votes wins, even if a majority of voters oppose that candidate. In this election, there was a split vote between six challengers, five of them African-American and one white, with the winner only receiving 32% of the vote. In a city with a thriving and engaged activist community that has been at the forefront of the national discussion about many racial and social justice issues it’s no surprise that so many candidates stepped forward to run for mayor. What is surprising is that the voters were punished for having more choices. Lyda Krewson, focused her campaign on law and order and while she may have won the election, it’s clear that her focus does not accurately reflect the majority of St. Louis primary voters. With so many candidates St. Louis’ voting system splintered votes rather than allowing voters to express their preferences more effectively in concert. Because of a crowded field and a low threshold for victory Krewson was elected even though 68% of voters preferred another candidate. This is not the first time voters have experienced this issue and, without adopting a better system for voting, it won’t be the last.
Splitting the vote among too many candidates has been a significant barrier for cities and states across the country, in has pronounced effects on historically disenfranchised communities. This could be avoided by adopting RCV because voters can rank their candidates rather than choosing just one candidate. Not only will outcomes in RCV elections better reflect the will of the voters, but it will also increase civil discourse by requiring candidates to seek their opponents' second- and third-place votes, ultimately reducing the polarization evident today in politics throughout the country. RCV requires a winner to receive the majority of the vote (50% + 1) and if no-one initially receives a majority, the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated and the ballots for those who voted for the defeated candidate would be transferred to the remaining candidate- whoever they marked second.
Creating a Fair Democracy
The way elections are held plays a critical role in ensuring how fair democracy is for all voters. Missouri would greatly benefit from adopting RCV because voters deserve to be represented fairly.
For more information you can sign-up by visiting Missourians for Fair and Open Elections.