Reform Roundup: September 23, 2016

Posted by Austin Plier on September 23, 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:

  • Republican commentator and talk show host George Smith writes that ranked choice voting is the antidote to political ugliness at CentralMaine.com: “I especially like the fact that [ranked choice voting] limits negative advertising, which has gotten so bad that we end up not liking any of the candidates… We desperately need this. I’ve spent my career in politics, and never — until the last few elections — saw such brutal, negative, nasty advertising. Some of the attack pieces against legislative candidates were astonishing — and very troubling. Yes, the nastiness has gotten all the way down to the legislative candidate’s level, often coming from national groups that can spend unlimited dollars in these races.”

  • 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 the USA Today:The best way to deal with it going forward is to adopt  something like “instant runoff voting” in our presidential races. Under that system, the votes of people who picked candidates at the bottom of the results would be re-allocated to their second choice, until one candidate had a majority of votes. I strongly support such a change in future elections.”

  • Jordan Haedtler writes for the American Prospect that ranked choice voting eliminates the danger of “spoiling” a race and promotes healthy democratic practices: “Candidates with diverse viewpoints deserve serious consideration without being dismissed as spoilers, and ranked choice offers voters the chance to express their sincere preferences without risking throwing the election to someone they dislike. Under ranked-choice voting, backers of the system say, third-party candidates such as Nader, Green party nominee Jill Stein, or Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson would not be “spoilers” because if they did not win a majority, their votes would be reallocated to the next-most-popular popular major party candidate.”

  • Ralph Nader argues in an interview with Democracy Now! that ranked choice voting would allow more candidates to run without being labeled a “spoiler”: “If we had proportional representation, instant runoff voting, all this spoiler stuff wouldn’t be around. And the idea of calling a third party "spoiler," using the First Amendment right to run for office, is a politically bigoted word and should never be tolerated by the American people, because everyone has an equal right to run for office. Everyone is going to get votes from one another. So they’re either spoilers of one another or none of them are spoilers.”

  • In an Op-Ed for the New York Times, Lee Drutman highlights the uncompetitive nature of Congressional elections, and points to FairVote’s fair representation solution: “The single-member, winner-take-all elections we use are a relative rarity among advanced democracies. They are not mandated by the Constitution, which lets states decide how to elect their representative. In fact, many states originally used multimember districts. Returning to this approach would make it far easier to draw competitive districts that mix urban and rural areas. It would make it easier for different wings in both parties to send members to Congress, creating more diversity within the parties. It might also allow some smaller, regional parties to emerge, since multimember allow candidates to win with far less than majority support. These developments would increase the possibilities for deal-making in Congress. The FairVote proposal of multimember districts with ranked choice voting seems especially promising on this front.”
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