Reform Roundup: November 4th, 2016

Posted by Avi Steele on November 04, 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.

  • Election and Constitutional Law Professor Steven Mulroy pens an article for The Conversation detailing the electoral benefits of ranked choice voting: “While used primarily at the local level, there’s no reason RCV couldn’t be used at the presidential level too. As the Supreme Court said in Bush v. Gore, under the Constitution, state legislatures have full power to decide how they will allocate their Electoral College votes. Variations aren’t unknown. For example, Maine allots electors by congressional district for fear that, in a three-way race, one candidate could get all the electors with just 34 percent of the vote. All those frustrated by their choices this election season, and those interested in fair, representative outcomes, should remember that the ‘spoiler problem’ is an eminently fixable problem.”

  • Pedro Hernandez, Deputy Director of FairVote California, illustrates the role ranked choice voting will play in Oakland elections in Oakland Magazine: “With five candidates running for the councilmember at large seat, Oakland voters should anticipate that no candidate will win a first-round majority, which means that the backup choices of voters who support trailing candidates will help determine who wins the instant runoff. The reason is simple: five candidates means voters may be split five different ways. The candidate with the lead in first choices usually wins the instant runoff. However, there is no guarantee of that happening—just like traditional runoff elections aren’t always won by the candidate who leads after the first round”

  • John Nichols writes about the necessary structural reforms FairVote advocates in The Nation: “There are also arguments to be made for significant structural shifts. For instance, the group FairVote proposes a number of ‘systemic electoral reforms that reverse the contextual reasons for low turnout… FairVote argues for: Fair Representation Voting for legislative elections, which would allow for outcomes that better represent the diverse beliefs of the electorate, and could therefore combat the low voter turnout that we see in many winner-take-all plurality districts, where choices are limited.”

  • In a column for the Times Record, Kevin Bunker explains how ranked choice voting can benefit Maine and the United States: “This isn’t a partisan issue. It will push both Democrats and Republicans toward the middle, every single election. I’m looking forward to continuing to exercise my prerogative to vote for moderates — whether Republicans, Democrats, or others with good ideas — and I’m thinking that once Ranked Choice Voting is implemented, they won’t be as rare as they are today. That’s why it’s so important — it reverberates long past this November. And political dysfunction is not unique to Maine - other states are watching, and this could be a fix from which the entire country could benefit.”

  • Representation2020 Project Director Cynthia Terrell writes in the Baltimore Sun about the structural changes needed to achieve gender parity: “[W]e need fair voting systems that give people the power to choose their representation. Fair voting combines multi-winner districts with ranked choice voting. Multi-winner districts (where more than one member represents a community) have a history of electing more women. Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of choice. Like-minded voters are able to support the candidates they like the best without fear their vote will help the candidate they like the least. That creates openings for women, people of color and all parties in areas that are now one-party strongholds. It is in use today across the country and can be used at the local, state and federal level without amending the U.S. Constitution.”

  • FairVote Board Chair Krist Novoselic pens an essay highlighting the advantages of ranked choice voting over existing electoral systems: “Without a cue on the ballot about party affiliation, many voters don’t have enough information to make a choice that fits their preferences. And without parties in local races, there are fewer institutions and grassroots activities to pull people in. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time to adopt voting systems that offer more choices and closer contests to get people involved and to the polls. Indeed, some cities in the Bay Area have adopted one such system, known as Ranked Choice Voting. Instead of just choosing one person to support, voters get more choice by ranking a ballot with their first choice of candidates, second choice and so on. Those rankings allow an ‘instant runoff’ that virtually folds the primary and general into one election.”

  • The Castine Patriot, a local paper in eastern Maine, officially endorses Question 5: “The ranked choice voting, also know[n] as instant runoff voting, [e]nsures that whoever is elected is a consensus choice of a majority of the voters in that election. That means the officeholder will have a mandate. With our diverse political culture in the state, there have been too many elections that put a candidate into office who was opposed by a majority of the voters and therefore was without a mandate. We are all too aware of the lack of civility in our elections these days. With ranked choice voting there is disincentive to criticize and take cheap shots at opponents so as not to lose votes from their supporters in the instant runoff rankings. This angling for votes in the ranking process by the candidates diminishes negativity about other candidates. We think this is a creative and needed reform to get our election politics positive again. We strongly recommend a YES vote.”

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