On June 11, the Guardian released an investigation uncovering deceptive election campaigning in the 2018 US midterm elections. The digital marketing firm Rally Forge funded a series of misleading Facebook ads promoting Green party candidates.
The objective of the advertising campaign was to pose as the fake organization America Progress Now to target Democratic voters in districts with close elections and split votes among progressive candidates.
“If THIS is our third party option, why are Americans still voting for corporate-controlled Democrats and Republicans?!” read one of the ads claiming to support a Wisconsin Green Party candidate.
Others have executed similar schemes recently; former Florida state senator Frank Artiles allegedly donated more than $44,000 to a fake candidate in 2020 to undermine Democratic incumbent Jose Javier Rodriguez. Unlawful and unethical election schemes run rampant in our modern hyper-partisan, winner-take-all elections.
‘Vote-splitting’ is a term used to describe the idea that majority populations with comparable beliefs might split their votes among two similar candidates. This can result in popular, majority-approved candidates losing elections and inaccurately represented populations at the legislature.
Operatives know that they can abuse vote splitting to benefit themselves, which in some cases leads to political fraud.
However, ranked choice voting can stop these tactics from working. In an RCV system, if a voter’s first-choice candidate doesn’t win the election, their vote is not wasted and can go towards their second choice.
All parties and candidates should have a fair chance to run without having well-meaning campaigns hijacked by operatives; however, our current winner-take-all system allows campaigns and candidates to be taken advantage of by mal-intended actors.