Today, the Rhode Island House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on House Joint Resolution 5513, which would initiate a constitutional amendment process to adopt ranked choice voting in elections for state legislative and executive positions. The bill was sponsored by Blake Filippi, an independent who serves as House Minority Whip, and five Republican co-sponsors. H 5513 is one of 32 bills in 19 states advancing ranked choice voting this year.
FairVote submitted testimony in favor of the legislation, just as we did for bills in several other states this year. Rhode Island elections make a strong case for the need for the majority outcomes that ranked choice voting provides. In the Block Island Times, Rep. Filippi explained:
“We’ve seen numerous races over the years where candidates have been elected with significantly less than 50 percent of the votes cast, including the last two governors’ races. Governor Chafee garnered 36.1 percent and Gov. Raimondo barely broke 40 percent of the votes cast. [...] Rhode Islanders have expressed concern that the will of the People is not adequately reflected, and that officials elected without a majority lack the strong mandate needed to effectively govern.”
This dynamic is similar to the one seen in Maine, which adopted ranked choice voting for all federal and state elections last year, after nine of the last eleven elections for governor there were won without a majority. We hope the Judiciary Committee moves H 5513 forward today, allowing the people of Rhode Island to join their fellow New Englanders in strengthening their democracy.