Voices & Choices

A Candidate’s Perspective on RCV: Maya Wiley and Senator Yasmin Trudeau

A Candidate’s Perspective on RCV: Maya Wiley and Senator Yasmin Trudeau

On February 10th, 2022, FairVote Washington held a webinar focused on ranked choice voting (RCV) from a candidate’s perspective. The panel featured political powerhouses Maya Wiley, a civil rights lawyer and former candidate in the 2021 New York City mayoral race, and Senator Yasmin Trudeau, who is currently working to pass an RCV local options bill in the Washington State Senate.

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During the webinar, Maya Wiley described her experience both as a voter in a ranked choice voting election and what it was like running in the largest municipal RCV election to be held in the U.S. In reflecting on her initial attraction to RCV, Wiley described the legacy of the late Lani Guinier and her impact on voting reform. Wiley stated, “ranked choice voting comes out of this tradition of thinking about alternatives to how we currently do things that make it more inclusive, that make it less of a winner-take-all, and something that gives voters the way to understand and be able to rank their votes in a way that more matches how people think about candidates because voters have very complex views about people and the idea that there’s just one, and there’s none other, that’s been something that people like Lani Guinier had written about for a very long time.” Wiley was one of the co-chairs of the campaign to implement RCV in New York City and she notes that as she did her research on RCV, she found that it would be a “small ‘d’ democratic reform that would be good for voters, good for democracy, good for participation.” 

When asked about whether or not RCV changed how she chose to campaign, she responded with, “the short answer is it didn’t.” As a candidate who would prefer to disagree on an opponent's policies, rather than their personal characteristics, she said she appreciated RCV’s tendency to make elections more friendly and it did not alter her campaign style. She noted that as a candidate, you must be appealing enough that if the voters do not rank you first, they will at least rank you second or third. When being told by voters that they had, or planned to, rank her second or third, “I’d say thank you, that’s a win.” She elaborated that, “it’s not just whether I’m number one, it’s that you rank me, and you rank me high.” Maya Wiley concluded by sharing her excitement and hope for RCV, and emphasized the important role it has to play in creating a more representative and equitable democracy. 

Senator Yasmin Trudeau from Washington’s 27th Legislative District, which includes parts of Tacoma, also joined the webinar in between sessions in the Senate. She described why RCV initially drew her in: “It really energizes people to want to participate in our democracy. I think giving people as many options for feeling heard and that the folks that they want provide them options instead of this lesser or two evils. It gives a voice and an opportunity to folks that are often left out of conversations across the board.” Senator Trudeau co-sponsored Senate Bill 5584, which would allow municipalities to use RCV if they so choose. 

“With ranked choice voting or any opportunities to just reach out and make people, especially in historically excluded communities, feel like they’re heard and part of the process, that’s how we’ll cultivate the bench and get new people interested in joining this space.” - Senator Yasmin Trudeau

FairVote Washington is a key and influential partner in spreading the importance of RCV in the Evergreen State. Click here to learn more about their mission and opportunities to get involved. Ranked choice voting is the fastest growing election reform in the country and, from coast to coast, more people are seeing the benefits of RCV. 

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