Reform Roundup: June 3rd, 2016

Posted by Austin Plier on June 03, 2016

Here is the latest roundup of press covering FairVote’s reform vision:

  • Ryan Teague Beckwith in TIME writes about Maine’s innovative solution to crowded fields of candidates: Ranked choice voting. “But some voters in Maine who have wrestled with a similar problem think they’ve hit on a simpler solution: let voters rank their favorite candidates. In November, Maine voters will decide whether they want to become the first state in the U.S. to implement ranked-choice voting. If a ballot initiative is approved, future Maine voters in primaries and general elections will be allowed to rank their choices for governor, Congress and statehouse races instead of voting for just one.”

  • Emily Cadei writes about the barriers facing third-party candidates in Newsweek: “There are changes afoot to break down some of these barriers at the state and local level. Cities like Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota; San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley California, now select some local officials via  what’s known as “rank choice voting,” where each voter ranks their top three choices for an office, and if no candidate win a majority of first choice votes on the first ballot, then the number of second and possibly third choices are added in, until someone reaches a majority. That eliminates the concern about “wasting” a vote on an independent candidate, because if they lose in the first round, your votes goes to your second choice pick.”

  • Joel Bleifuss of In These Times proposes ranked choice voting to give voters more choice and fight voter apathy: “RCV allows the voter to vote their conscience without worrying about being so-called spoilers. For example, if the U.S. president were elected through RCV, Bernie Sanders could run as an independent, and the white working-class Democrats, young folks and independents who make up his base could vote for him as their number one choice—and then list another candidate, such as Hillary Clinton, as their second, just in case Sanders didn’t win.”

  • Mike Lind writes in the New York Times that America needs more democracy, and advocates for greater freedom to experiment at the local level as a means to achieve that: “At the level of local government, electoral reforms like ranked choice (instant runoff) voting, which transfers the second-choices of voters who backed losing candidates when there wasn’t a clear winner, can give all voters more influence than standard winner-take-all rules. A number of cities, including San Francisco and Oakland in California and Takoma Park, Md., have adopted ranked choice voting in recent years.“

  • Rob Richie, FairVote’s executive director, advocates for ranked choice voting, a national primary day, and other reforms to improve the presidential primary process in In These Times“With RCV [ranked choice voting] ballots, voters would never be punished for voting early… After the state contests winnow the field, that party’s backers would pick their nominee in a single day of contests among the finalists. While a party might choose to let each state hold its own contests under its own rules, it would do well to embrace a full-fledged national primary, with every voter in every state and territory casting an equal vote.”

  • Conor Lynch writes in Salon that Bernie Sanders can use his platform to advocate for bold electoral reforms that would empower voters: “Some worthy proposals include introducing an instant-voter runoff system for presidential and senatorial elections, replacing the current first-past-the-post (a.k.a. winner-takes all) voting system with a proportional representation model…”

  • Larry Hincker explains why we only have a two-party system in the Roanoke Times, and offers ranked choice voting as a solution: “Why not require a majority of votes to win an election? (Hmm, isn’t that what nominating conventions require?) Many democracies around the globe, whether parliamentary or not, mount majority elections. Run-off elections require a majority, but they’re expensive and time consuming. Instead some countries and even some localities in the U.S. deploy instant run-off elections that entail rank-order voting and simulates a series of run-off elections. There can be many candidates on the ballot and the voter rank orders each one.”

  • Cal Thomas cites FairVote's turnout data, and advocates for changes to our presidential primary process: "Perhaps a coalition of historians, former presidents and former members of Congress, who are not known for extreme partisanship, could get together and design a new system by which we choose the nominees. It might be an idea that entices more people to turn out and vote during primary season, or it could eliminate the current system entirely and replace it with one that gives us better options. Clearly, the process we have now is not working. We should be able to do better."
  • Ramesh Ponnoru writes in National Review on reforms for future Republican presidential nominations:  “There are, however, two changes to the primaries that I think Republicans should consider. One would be for some states to use an instant runoff or a similar mechanism to make sure that the person who wins the most delegates from the state reflects the preference of most primary voters. A second would be for states to refrain from allocating all their delegates to a mere plurality winner. Both reforms would be designed to push a little bit more than the current process does toward a consensus nominee.”
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