“Bold New City of the South,” “Where Florida Begins,” “It’s Easier Here”—those have all been taglines for Jacksonville, Florida through the years, ever since the city and county governments consolidated in the late 1960’s. Each is incredibly relevant to getting ranked choice voting (RCV) passed, not just in Jacksonville, not just in Florida, but across the country.
In Charlie Wheelan’s book, “The Centrist Manifesto”, he argues for a ‘fulcrum strategy’: getting a handful of independents elected to evenly divided legislatures to more quickly affect real change that moves us away from hyper-partisanship. There is an electoral reform corollary to this approach.
Florida’s population of 21 million is the 3rd largest in the nation. It is the largest purple state in the U.S, with 37% of voters registered as Democrats, 35% Republican, and 28% not party affiliated. As we all know going back to 2000, how Florida votes can decide national elections.
Three of the top five cities for millennial populations are in Florida: #2 Tampa, #3 Jacksonville, #4 Miami. However, Jacksonville is the largest purple city in the largest purple state, with voter registrations of 41% Democrat, 36% Republican, and 23% not party affiliated.
What does all this mean? It means that getting an electoral reform like RCV to take off nationally can be a long hard slog, but if you want a roadmap for the fastest way to get through to the finish line, or a fulcrum strategy for RCV nationally, then get it passed in Jacksonville, which will make it that much easier to get it passed in the rest of Florida.
If you think RCV has become a mild national topic just from the statewide passage in Maine, imagine how it will become center-stage of the national conversation when it gets passed in Florida, and consequently becomes that much easier to pass where you live.
The RCVJAX.ORG team is working to make sure Jacksonville is true to its oldest slogan and is “bold” in 2020. Our path ahead is clear—we need to collect 31,000 petitions to put a local city ballot measure on for November 2020 if we can’t convince the City Council to pass RCV on its own. Not every city gives you the option to do local ballot measures, so to that extent, it IS ‘easier here’, and we are so thankful for that.
If we are able to make RCV happen in JAX, you will start to see a new and improved Florida begin to take shape. And as Florida goes, so goes the country, but Jacksonville is where Florida begins, and by extension where a new and improved America begins.
Guest post: Perry Waag is a volunteer with RCV Jax.