Reform Roundup: October 21st, 2016

Posted by Avi Steele on October 21, 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.

  • Rolling Stone reports on an interview with the Portland Press Herald, in which FairVote Board Chair Krist Novoselic discusses ranked choice voting in Maine: “If Maine passes ranked choice voting, what it does is it opens the system up. It doesn’t take any rights away. It gives more rights, it gives more opportunities for people to participate in our elections. More room, more voices for independents or third parties. Or these major parties could run more candidates and not spoil the election. There’s versions of ranked choice voting where democrats or republicans can run two candidates, and research has shown that they didn’t split the election.”

  • Bill Moyers shares an article from Foreign Policy by Larry Diamond, which highlighted the international significance of Maine’s Question 5: “This state of affairs is one reason it’s hard to overstate the importance of the 2016 presidential election — not just for the United States but for the whole world ... The vote I have in mind will not decide who controls the US Senate, since neither of the state’s two senators is on the ballot this year. Instead, the issue at stake in Question 5 (a citizen-initiated referendum) is whether Maine will adopt a system called ranked-choice voting (RCV) in all its elections. If they approve the measure, Maine voters will have a unique opportunity to showcase the transformative potential of US democracy and to send a much-needed signal for reform at a crucial moment.”

  • The Portland Press Herald strongly endorsed Question 5 in Maine in an editorial: “Campaigns like this become exercises in handicapping, with voters and the media calculating who a third-party candidate “takes” votes from – as if anyone’s vote “belongs” to any candidate – instead of analyzing which person would do the best job. Ranked-choice voting changes that dynamic. Voters can pick the person they think is the best without giving up the ability to have some say in the choice among the other candidates. Contrary to what opponents claim, ranked-choice voting is not a complicated system… Ranked-choice voting is the right change for Maine.”

  • Paul Raeburn writes in Newsweek about the severe shortcomings of American democracy and the fixes offered by ranked choice voting: “We’re not talking about hanging chads here, or stuffed ballot boxes. Those are the mechanics. We’re also not talking about the baseless Republican allegations of voter fraud that have prompted legislation making it difficult for some poor and minority voters to exercise their franchise. The problem with voting in the U.S. goes far deeper than that. ‘The big problem with the way we do elections now is we don’t ask people for their second choice,’ Zollman says.”

  • Greg Orman of RealClearPolitics lays out the ways ranked choice voting allows voters to vote honestly: “Ranked-choice voting effectively allows voters to vote their actual preferences instead of having to vote strategically. This would have a meaningful impact on elections and governing. It would empower independent and third party candidates by eliminating the “wasted vote” argument. If you’re a Libertarian who votes Republican because you dislike the Democrats, you can list the Libertarian as your first choice and the Republican as your second.  If you’re a Green who votes Democratic because you dislike the Republicans, you can list the Green as your first choice and the Democrat as your second.”

  • Peter White reports on Maine’s Question 5 for Yes! Magazine: “Millions of Americans would like to vote for someone they actually like, but are afraid to do so for fear of helping to elect their least favorite candidate. A ballot initiative in Maine shows one way to change all that. Called Question 5, it asks voters to change the state’s election rules—which award victory to whichever candidate gets the most votes—and adopt a new system called ‘ranked-choice voting’  … According to FairVote, a nonpartisan group that advocates for electoral reform, candidates who are women or people of color tend to do better with this method, as opposed to a first-past-the-post system that yields a plurality winner, which, more often than not, is an older white male candidate.”

  • The Gazette Times endorses Measure 2-100, a local proposition to adopt ranked choice voting in Benton County, Oregon: “Oregon voters generally haven't been kind to plans to overhaul how we vote: Most recently, an intriguing plan to adopt a so-called "top-two" primary was trounced in a statewide election. But that doesn't mean there aren't better ways to conduct elections, and Benton County voters have a chance this November to adopt another promising experiment: ranked-choice voting. It's an experiment worth trying. We recommend a "yes" vote on Measure 2-100.”

  • FairVote Board member Paul Jacob offers his take on ranked choice voting on his blog, Common Sense with Paul Jacob: “Ranked choice voting sort of collapses multi-candidate primaries and the shorter list of the general election into one, allowing voters to rank their choices so that when their first choice doesn’t make it, their less valued candidates get counted. So if you prefer a candidate unlikely to win you aren’t “wasting” your vote by marking that candidate first, as today in most American elections, because your vote goes to your second choice. The current system encourages ‘strategic voting,’ where we deny our preferences to work around the defects of the electoral system. We end up voting for candidates we do not like, to avoid even worse, promoting mediocre and downright bad elected officials.”

  • FairVote California Deputy Director Pedro Hernandez writes an op-ed for the Berkeley Daily Planet explaining how Bay Area voters benefit from ranked choice voting: "On Election Day, all first choices are counted. If a candidate receives a majority of first choices they win just like in any other election. However, if no candidate has a majority, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and voters who supported that candidate have their ballot instantly go to their next choice. This cycle repeats until there is a majority winner. This way, a candidate is elected under majority rule, when most voters will be casting a ballot in November. That makes winner more broadly representative."

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