With social distancing in mind, political parties across the country are grappling with the transition to virtual operations—and a trend is emerging. To conduct their business, parties spanning the ideological spectrum are increasingly turning to ranked choice voting (RCV).
In recent weeks, the Utah Republican Party, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, and the Butler County (IA) Democrats—parties that represent diverse (and often opposing) sets of beliefs—have adopted RCV for internal party business. That’s because they all recognize ranked choice voting for what it is: a simple, non-partisan, common-sense solution that builds consensus and encourages civility.
The Utah Republican Party, hoping to speed up their nominating process, has adopted RCV for its late April online nominating convention. Instead of listening to in-person speeches and casting multiple time-consuming rounds of ballots, Utah Republicans can absorb video speeches posted online and cast a ranked ballot online over a three-day period. RCV will be especially useful in the race to replace congressman Rob Bishop in Utah’s first congressional district, where 13 (!) Republicans have thrown their names into the ring. In that race, RCV will allow the Utah GOP to fairly winnow the field and come up with a nominee that is acceptable to the majority of the party.
Similarly, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party has adopted RCV in its online convention to settle all contested endorsements. According to party rules, candidates must achieve 60% support after ballots have been tabulated in order to receive the party’s coveted endorsement.
FairVote Minnesota applauded the move:
RCV is the smart and logical way to handle online voting with multiple candidates vying for endorsement... It’s a solution that allows parties to complete multiple rounds of balloting in a single ranked ballot. Not only is it efficient, it also leads to stronger, more representative candidates. RCV empowers delegates to rank candidates in the order of their preference, and ensures those candidates have broad support and are in a strong position for the general election.
Likewise, in Iowa, the Butler County Democrats have shifted to online RCV to award delegates to the district and state Democratic conventions. Their electronic county convention will utilize ranked ballots sent over email to conduct this business.
As these examples spanning the political spectrum illustrate, it is clear that, to conduct party business in the age of Covid-19, ranked choice voting just makes sense.