In a new op-ed published by The Washington Post, Rosa O’Hara applies Bruno Mars’ recent album of the year upset at the Grammy Awards to highlight what happens in American political elections all the time: a spoiler who wins despite facing groups of supporters who vastly outnumber his own. In the contest for the little gold Victrola statue, the split votes of the supports of Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino, allowed the diminutive Mars to take home the prize.
In politics, there’s plenty of examples of this. Ralph Nader’s insurgent campaign for president in 2000 siphoned just enough votes from Al Gore to give George W. Bush the crucial state of Florida and the presidency, even though Nader had no shot himself to win. In 2016, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein had the same effect on Hillary Clinton’s run in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, handing the Oval Office to Donald J. Trump.
The author – an Australian – writes that the easy solution to stop this from happening is ranked choice voting, just like they use in the “land down under.”
"The premise is simple. Voters’ first choices are counted, and if no candidate won more than 50 percent, the loser is knocked out. If you voted for the candidate who’s now out, your second choice is counted instead. And so on. It’s a process of elimination. The first candidate to reach more than half the vote wins. Basically, this system identifies whom people don’t want elected. It also means smaller parties can gain traction."
American voters deserve better than watching candidates with lesser support gain office in our plurality, winner-takes-all elections. The Australians figured it out years ago; it's time for us to do the same.