Ranked choice voting rang in the new year with a prominent endorsement: that of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, at a December 28 Concord, NH town hall sponsored by Equal Citizens and Open Democracy Action, indicated his support for the method, saying ranked choice voting (RCV) “is something I support.”
At the event, Sanders asked the audience to imagine a hypothetical three-candidate scenario – one in which voters abandon their favorite candidate to instead vote strategically for a better-polling candidate they believe will defeat their least-favored candidate.
He then shared his thoughts on such a situation, saying, “I believe that disenfranchises you a bit.”
He added, “If we are believing in democracy and the right for people to have the freedom to cast their ballot and not have to choose the lesser of two evils, [ranked choice voting] is something I support.”
In fact, Sanders has a history of supporting ranked choice voting, which, in its single winner form, is also known as instant runoff voting. In 2007 congressional testimony for a bill that would have implemented RCV for U.S. Senate and U.S. House elections, he announced, “Count me in as someone who strongly supports Instant Runoff.”
While Sanders is not the first 2020 presidential candidate to support ranked choice voting (Andrew Yang, Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican Bill Weld, for example, have actually included RCV planks in their platform), he is the highest profile candidate to directly announce his support of the method.
We are encouraged that RCV is entering everyday discourse – and believe this bodes well for its prospects in 2020. Stay tuned to FairVote for more developments as the year moves forward!