Voices & Choices

RCV Was A Large Part of the National Conversation This Week

RCV Was A Large Part of the National Conversation This Week

Ranked choice voting has been an important part of the national conversation this week, particularly as a way to improve the GOP presidential primary process. Here’s a roundup of folks who have been writing about RCV:

  • Yesterday’s piece in The Economist: "Republicans are already comfortable with alternatives to FPTP... Crucially, IRV takes information about second-choice support that Americans can currently only acquire from polls—if your favourite candidate were not in the race, whom would you plump for next—and makes it explicit at the ballot box. Rather than simply opting for one contender, voters are required to rank all the candidates in order of preference."

  • Ramesh Ponnuru suggests that GOP delegates use ranked ballots in his Bloomberg View column:

    "When it came time for the delegates to vote on the presidential nomination, delegates would rank their candidates — with pledged delegates putting the candidates to whom they are pledged at the top of their lists. It would probably also be necessary—to reduce the likelihood of accusations of dirty tricks — for each delegate to make his or her rank orderings public immediately after the vote.

    It’s a process that would generate a majority for a candidate automatically: There would no need for multiple ballots, and thus no politicking between rounds of voting." 

  • Geoff Colvin in Fortune: "Different rules might have spared Republicans this forced march to likely defeat in November. A simple and realistic change would be to use a voting system called ranked voting, or choice voting, or the instant run-off."

  • Kevin Lewis in the Boston Globe: "Political scientists surveyed 'approximately 1,200 likely voters from three jurisdictions where local elections were conducted under preferential voting (Cambridge, Minneapolis, and St. Paul) and about 1,200 likely voters from seven similar jurisdictions that had just experienced plurality elections (Boston, Seattle, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Tulsa, Lowell, and Worcester).'"
  • Francis Barry in the Bloomberg View: "States could eliminate these problems -- and the added costs of a runoff -- by adopting ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting. Various U.S. cities including San Francisco and Minneapolis have adopted this system, as have several states for overseas ballots. (It is not without its flaws.)... Trump has exposed a central flaw in the nominating system -- the possibility of selecting a nominee who lacks majority support -- that will prompt leaders in both parties to consider ways to protect against it. Even if Trump fails to win the nomination, he may have a lasting impact on presidential politics."
  • Kristin Eberhard from Sightline InstituteWith ranked-choice voting, Trump, with support from just one-third of one party might not have a shot at becoming the president of the entire country. And with a top four primary, we might all get a chance to choose between the current front runners: Clinton, Trump, Sanders, and Cruz. With ranked-choice voting, we could choose the leader of the free world based on who wins majority support, not who tears down opponents just enough to eke by with plurality support. A sensible voting system may seem distant from this month’s sophomoric political theater, but ranked-choice voting is a viable and well tested method that could create real change in how elections work in the United States. 

Others have taken to the blogosphere this week to write about RCV:

  • Brendan Trainor in Reno News & Review: "Both the Democrats and the Republicans have been losing registered voters at an alarming rate. They each represent only about 25 percent of registered voters now. The fault lines could grow wider within their own factions. With so many American voters angry at the party establishments, there should be a way to allow them to express that anger. Libertarians could vote for the Libertarian Party presidential candidate first, and Trump or Cruz second. Assuming Bernie Sanders does drop out, why should he be just a stalking horse for Hillary, when you could vote Green first, Hillary second and express your real feelings? Instant runoff voting would help diversify democracy."

  • Blogger Richard Hansen in his Faith & Politics blog: "When it comes to general elections, this would allow people to vote for who they want, but still allow them to have "fallback" candidates should their person have a low vote count... [T]he way I see it, it's a much more robust system that allows a true "free market" of politics, which is something this country sorely needs."

Bloomberg also covered Maryland Senator Jamie Raskin’s “Potomac Compact” legislation which would allow states to adopt fair representation voting to solve gerrymandering. You can listen to the six minute clip on SoundCloud.

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