Ranked Choice Voting in The New York Times and on the November Ballot!

Posted on October 13, 2016

Dear Friend,

With less than four weeks until Election Day, a lot of Americans are ready for this long campaign to end. But it’s not just about the presidential election. Reform is on the move!

We have two incredible opportunities to advance ranked choice voting (RCV, or “instant runoff voting”), both driven by remarkable volunteer energy: a statewide ballot measure in Maine and a local ballot measure in Benton County, Oregon. Just last weekend, Howard Dean wrote a powerful New York Times commentary in favor of adopting ranked choice voting for our highest elections. Gov. Dean wrote:

“Question Five on the Maine ballot would establish ranked-choice voting in the 2018 primary and general elections for governor, Congress and State Legislature….

“The case for ranked-choice voting is nonpartisan. Senator John McCain, a Republican, and Senator Barack Obama, a Democrat, opposed each other in the 2008 campaign, yet both back ranked-choice voting. My fellow Vermonter, Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, backs ranked-choice voting and testified in support of legislation to use it for Vermont’s congressional elections….

“Put on the ballot by signatures collected overwhelmingly by volunteers, Question Five has impressive support from across the political spectrum and is doing well in polls. A victory would make campaigns less negative, give voters more voice and show the rest of the country how best to uphold majority rule.”

Good News out of Maine

In Maine, two new polls show that there is a great chance for Mainers to pass Question 5 and make Maine the first state to adopt ranked choice voting for all statewide elections. A Portland Press Herald poll shows that 48% of voters plan to vote “yes” on Question 5, while 23% are still undecided. A separate campaign poll conducted by The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting showed similar results.

The grassroots-driven campaign in Maine is doing an excellent job of continuing to educate voters and generate positive media stories. Here are a few recent examples:

  • Stanford’s Larry Diamond writes in the Portland Press Herald that Maine can bring out the “better angels” of our democracy with ranked choice voting.

  • Republican commentator and talk show host George Smith writes that ranked choice voting is the antidote to political ugliness.

  • Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes writes that ranked choice voting restores civility in politics and majority rule in a commentary for the Sun Journal.


If you’d like to help out Maine from afar, please do one of two things:

  • Ask anyone you know who votes in Maine to support Question 5!

  • Contact Ethan Fitzgerald (efitzgerald@fairvote.org) about making phone calls.

Benton County Campaign Builds Momentum

The local effort in Benton County, Oregon continues to pick up a virtual sweep of endorsements and excellent press coverage. Here are three good recent media hits:

Ranked Choice Voting Drives the National Conversation 

National thought leaders from around the country continue to write about the value of ranked choice voting in light of our current political climate. See highlights from last week and the year.  A few recent examples:

  • Leonid Bershidsky writes in the Bloomberg View about how ranked choice voting could rescue American politics, featuring my insights.

  • Lee Drutman outlines the case for ranked choice voting in Maine at Vox's "Polyarchy" blog.

  • Jordan Haedtler writes for the American Prospect that ranked choice voting eliminates the danger of “spoiling” a race and promotes healthy democratic practices.

  • Two of the nation’s leading election law professors have recently called for RCV. UC-Irvine Law Professor Rick Hasen writes that ranked choice voting is the best solution to the tough strategic considerations voters are making at the polls this year in USA Today, while Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law professor Edward Foley joins him in calling for RCV in future presidential elections.

  • I join former League of Women Voters Arizona President Barbara Klein in advocating for the use of ranked choice voting in Arizona’s primaries in the Arizona Daily Star.

To stay up-to-date on the latest good press for ranked choice voting and other reforms, please follow our “Reform Roundup” posts on our blog. You can check out the best press from last week’s “roundup” as well as this highlight reel of good press for ranked choice voting in 2016

FairVote California Hits the Ground Running

Our great new staff at FairVote California have been busy as election season heats up, with important commentary on ranked choice voting last week. Jennifer Pae, Director of FairVote California, responded to Governor Jerry Brown’s unfortunate decision to veto legislation that would have expanded local options for ranked choice voting with disappointment, but optimism for the opportunities on the horizon for advocates in California. Deputy Director Pedro Hernandez also published a piece in Beyond Chron, explaining why Bay Area voters will have a stronger voice this November with ranked choice voting.

What to Watch for In October

FairVote this month will be releasing new reports on problems with winner-take-all elections for Congress and the potential impact of different reforms. Our Board Chair, Krist Novoselic, will be giving a TEDX talk on Saturday, October 22nd and appearing on CSPAN's Washington Journal on the morning of the 22nd. Stay tuned for more details, as well as other media appearances from Krist this month on Fox Business and ABC Radio.

Thank you!


Rob Richie

Executive Director, FairVote

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