Reform Roundup: December 9th

Posted by Avi Steele on December 09, 2016

Catch up on the week’s electoral reform news with our round up of folks across the country writing and talking about FairVote’s reform vision. We also invite you to read these highlights of great press for ranked choice voting in 2016.

  • The Star Tribune Editorial Board looks forward optimistically after the divisive 2016 election: “If the Minneapolis experience holds true in Maine, ranked-choice voting will likely face a legal challenge before its expected implementation in 2018 — and will survive that challenge nicely. Meanwhile, voting machine vendors are perfecting the automatic tabulation of ranked ballots, offering Minneapolis and St. Paul the prospect of speedier vote counts next year. Election stewards — and voters — in both Maine and the Twin Cities should do their upmost to smooth the transition to ranked voting. They are in the vanguard of what may prove to be a healing change for an ailing democracy.”

  • Katharine Seelye of the New York Times reviews ranked choice voting and Maine’s recent adoption: “Ranked-choice voting had been under consideration for some time in Maine, where independents often mount strong third-party bids. The winner in nine of the state’s past 11 elections for governor won with less than a majority. The goal is to keep that from happening again… Proponents say the voting method ensures that whoever is elected has the support of a majority of voters. They say this helps increase civility because candidates need to appeal to a spectrum broader than just their base in order to win over their opponents’ supporters on subsequent ballots. And theoretically it eliminates the possibility of a “spoiler” candidate winning.”

  • FairVote Minnesota’s Jeanne Massey and Jeff Peterson explain how Americans can take steps in the future to improve our democracy: “Many cities in the U.S. – including Minneapolis and St. Paul – use and love RCV, but Maine took it to the next level. Passage of the statewide ballot measure means anyone running for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, state Senate or state House seats in Maine must be elected by a majority of voters. Maine has taken a bold step toward changing the broken electoral system that rewards extremism and ignores the will of the majority. Now it’s time for Minnesota and the rest of our country to follow their lead. We at FairVote Minnesota believe if enough cities lead, states will follow. And when enough states lead, the nation will follow.”

  • FairVote’s Rob Richie leads of a new Cato Unbound series on ranked choice voting with his essay, “Hacking America’s Antiquated Elections.”: “‘RCV upholds majority rule while accommodating increased voter choice. It creates incentives for winning candidates to reach out to all voters in order to get a higher ranking and allows a voter to consider more choices with a greatly reduced likelihood of “splitting” their vote in a manner that might otherwise result in an unrepresentative outcome. Based on the context of its use, RCV can mitigate partisan inflexibility, foster greater accountability for incumbents, increase civic engagement, and reduce the impact of campaign spending."

  • Dan Arel of The Hill offers post-election analysis of third party participation in the 2016 campaign: “With our current election laws, no third party can succeed. Perhaps more important than focusing on just local elections will be focusing on changing the very laws that govern how we elect officials: We need ranked-choice voting, ensuring a candidate breaks the 50 percent margin before being elected, instead of first-past-the-post voting. Ranked choice also works at a smaller local level, ensuring that gerrymandering can no longer play a role in elections.”

  • Utah native Michael Reed Davison offers his thoughts on independent candidates and their exclusion from the political process in the Deseret News: “Still, many Americans concluded that the “lesser of two evils” was the most moral or practical choice, given a flawed system. In this way, our approach of choosing one “favorite” candidate pulls us into perpetual two-person races. What if it didn’t have to be like this? What if we could have a real third choice, every election? There’s a simple answer: ranked-choice voting, a system Maine just voted into law.”

  • Rod Kackley of PJ Media describes Maine’s latest electoral innovation: “Four candidates are on the ballot. You think one of the top two contenders is so goofy that even a bunch of clowns in a car wouldn’t give him a ride. The other leading candidate, you decide, is either a crook, an incompetent, a pathological liar, or all of the above. There are two other candidates. But nobody’s ever heard of them and they seem to you like total losers. So rather than wasting a vote on them, or flipping a coin between evil and evil, you just stay home with a hard pack and a bottle of Jack and wonder what the hell kind of a world your kids and grandkids are going to be left with. Okay. You’re right. That could never happen. But if it did -- and happened often enough -- you might vote the same way the people of Maine did Nov. 8 and choose a whole new way of voting: ranked-choice-voting.”

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