Unite America, a nonpartisan good-government advocacy group, has released a white paper detailing measures state and federal authorities must take to strengthen voting procedures in upcoming local and national elections.
The paper, titled Voting at Home: How Democracy Survives a Pandemic, provides a comprehensive overview of short and long-term solutions intended to safeguard the sanctity of our elections. Included in the paper is a section on ranked choice voting (RCV), which Unite America believes should be combined with vote-at-home measures for two reasons: its potential to eliminate vote-wasting, and its beneficial application in states with runoff elections.
The paper emphasizes the non-partisan nature of RCV, explaining that combining the measure with mail-in ballots would be a no-brainer in the eight states—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas—that currently utilize runoff elections for statewide and federal races if no candidate achieves a majority in the first round of balloting. In fact, to avoid the logistical nightmare of sending out two rounds of ballots in a condensed time period, five of those states—Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi—already use RCV for their military and overseas voter ballots.
But the paper also notes that the appeal of RCV extends to all states, not just those with runoff elections. Why? Because RCV ensures that votes cast early for candidates who withdraw from the race aren’t wasted. According to Unite America, “By allowing voters to rank candidates in order of their preference, RCV prevents spoiled votes cast for candidates who drop out of the race.”
As the paper highlights, there are a series of other immediate reforms that authorities must implement to ensure all voters have a voice and choice in upcoming elections. These include (but are not limited to) allowing online ballot requests, providing secure ballot drop-off locations, maintaining some in-person polling locations, standardizing criteria for rejecting ballots, upgrading security equipment, and paying for ballot postage.
It’s no secret that we are living through difficult and unprecedented times—and that, for many people, elections and politics are currently the last thing on their minds.
But that doesn’t mean elections or politics are unimportant. In fact, the health of our government depends on people staying engaged and having access to the ballot. We have a presidential election coming up in November; it is absolutely vital that people be able to make their voices heard. These reforms would help make that a reality, guaranteeing all citizens a say in governance amidst this major crisis.