Two weeks ago, amid a firestorm of criticism from both major political parties, independent Rep. Justin Amash ended speculation of a Libertarian Party bid for the presidency.
His potential candidacy sparked the ire of both parties: Republicans who feared he would draw smaller-government conservatives from President Trump and Democrats concerned he would attract anti-Trump conservatives from Joe Biden.
But if presidential elections used ranked choice voting (RCV), that problem wouldn’t have existed. Instead, voters could have cast a ballot with the comforting knowledge that a vote for Amash would not have “spoiled” the election.
Today, Justin Amash (@justinamash) ended speculation of a Libertarian Party bid for the presidency.— FairVote (@fairvote) May 17, 2020
His potential candidacy alarmed leaders of both parties who feared he would “spoil” the election.
With #RankedChoiceVoting, that wouldn’t have been a problem. (1/4)
FairVote President and CEO Rob Richie and FairVote Senior Fellow David Daley make this case in a May 26 Salon op-ed. They argue that, in addition to eliminating the potential spoiler effect, RCV ensures third party candidates who bring unique perspectives would not be forced from the race.
“Democrats and Republicans…wanted to avoid, once again, an outcome where a handful of third-party voters created a plurality winner and tipped the result one way or the other. RCV delivers that outcome. It puts a permanent end to spoilers. It eliminates the possibility of a plurality winner nabbing all of a state's Electoral College votes. It neutralizes third parties as a threat and incentivizes Democrats and Republicans to court their supporters, rather than blaming anyone who doesn't view the contrasts between the two sides as clearly and identically as they do.”
Indeed, this courting of third party supporters would encourage positive dialogue—which would reduce rancor and disincentivize caustic political attacks. In a time when political acrimony has reached a fever pitch, this would be a major benefit.
Currently, Maine is planning to allocate its electoral votes through RCV. We hope that members of all parties—Republicans, Democrats, and others—will see the benefits of RCV and advocate for the method in future presidential elections.
After all, as Richie and Daley point out, “All of us want fairer elections.”