Our country stands divided, now more than ever.
But whether red or blue, young or old, rural or urban, voters share a common interest in expanding their choices at the ballot box while protecting majority outcomes.
These ideals fueled the flames for a ranked choice voting revolution (RCV) in Maine, which just made history by becoming the first state to elect a U.S. Senator and two House members using RCV. Maine now joins the ranks of a dozen other cities that turned to ranked choice voting to solve their electoral woes.
The 2018 elections saw three different voting methods proposed through local ballot measures: voters in Memphis voted to rescue RCV from a council-led repeal, while Fargo, North Dakota and Lane County, Oregon explored newer alternatives with mixed results.
Voters in Fargo overwhelmingly passed a ballot measure to switch to approval voting for their city elections, while the Lane County ballot question that sought to replace the two-election runoff system with STAR voting narrowly lost.
Like ranked choice voting, approval and STAR (which stands for Score then Automatic Runoff) methods let voters choose multiple candidates: all weighted equally under approval voting, or scored on a 0-5 scale under STAR.
Just as in Maine, it was the pattern of disturbingly low plurality wins in Fargo’s nonpartisan elections - including one commissioner elected with 21.8 percent of the vote in a six-way race in 2015 - that led to Reform Fargo’s ballot initiative for approval voting. Those leading the charge for STAR voting in Lane County cited a similar rationale, as well as the benefits of eliminating the “bother and cost” of the existing, two-round runoff system.
While there are key distinctions separating STAR and approval voting systems from ranked choice voting, they all demonstrate voters’ hunger for elections in which all voices and viewpoints matter and outcomes that protect majority rule.
And that’s a goal we can all get behind.