A recent NBC News/GenForward at the University of Chicago poll found that 71 percent of millennials believe both the Democratic and Republican parties are doing a poor job representing the American people, and 65 percent think the country is on the wrong track. A majority of millennials believe that a third political party is needed to fix our political slate. The poll was conducted Oct. 26--Nov. 10, 2017 with a nationally representative sample of 1,876 adults, ages 18-34.
As a millennial myself, I think it’s important to open the political spectrum beyond the two major parties and allow third party candidates a fair shot at the ballot. While a third party may or may not address the issues millennials care about, we do know our current, winner-take-all system does not ensure better representation for all Americans. The path for fair representation starts with the way we elect our leaders.
Under the current voting system in America, voters often find themselves having to choose the “lesser of the two evils” instead of voting for the candidate they like the most. As proposed in the Fair Representation Act (HR 3057), voters would have the opportunity to elect their representatives using ranked choice voting.
Ranked choice voting (RCV) is an easy, yet effective reform we can make to give voters more choices and a stronger voice at the ballot box. They have the freedom to rank the candidates they support in order of preference. If a candidate earns a majority of the first choice votes (50 percent + 1), they are declared the winner. However, if no candidate wins with a majority, an “instant runoff” occurs. The candidate in last place is eliminated and his or her backers’ vote are reallocated to their second choice. The process continues until a candidate gains a majority and is the winner.
Numerous cities across the country use ranked choice voting in their elections. Last month, Minneapolis and St. Paul held elections using RVC, and they were a smashing success. Candidates, election officials and voters had a very positive reaction about how well the elections went. Candidates in Minnesota agreed that RCV obliged them run their campaigns more positively, because they were competing for a voter’s second choice.
“Here is how ranked choice voting ultimately helps, you are able to fully support the candidate you believe in,” Mayor-elect Jacob Frey said. You can see more about the positive outcomes ranked choice voting had the recent election here.
The beauty of ranked choice voting is it gives voters more choices and candidates from across the political spectrum a fair shot to run in an election and have their voice heard. As we’ve seen from the polling, 71 percent of millennials say that a third party is needed. The best way to open up our elections to more candidates and more voices is to change the way we elect our leaders.