Voices & Choices

Want to make future presidential primaries better? Use ranked choice voting.

Want to make future presidential primaries better? Use ranked choice voting.

With Joe Biden as presumptive Democratic nominee, the 2020 presidential primary is essentially over. While the race started with a diverse field of 25 candidates, voters in more than 20 states never even got to cast a ballot—effectively disenfranchising and stifling the voices of millions of Americans.

According to Rob Richie, president and CEO of FairVote, and David Daley, FairVote senior fellow, in the 2024 primaries, “it doesn’t have to be this way.”

In a recently penned Democracy Journal op-ed, Richie and Daley outline steps parties and states should take to overhaul the presidential nomination process in upcoming years to make the process fairer and more transparent.

Their piece, titled A Post-Pandemic Voting Reform Agenda, first encourages all states to adopt the 2020 primary’s successful innovations. This includes mail-in ballots combined with ranked choice voting (RCV)—a reform that recently experienced success in Alaska and Wyoming. RCV would also guarantee that the more than two million voters who cast early votes for withdrawn candidates would not have their votes “wasted.” Instead, by allowing voters to rank choices, any votes cast for withdrawn candidates would simply count for backup choices, ensuring that all voters have a voice in the primary.

RCV, a common-sense reform with a track record of success, would undoubtedly improve the presidential primary process. And while 2024 seems far off, it is never too early to brainstorm ways to improve our democracy. As Richie and Daley put it:

“There’s an immediate challenge in front of us: A November election that could take on a radically different form than most Americans are accustomed to. As we protect this fall’s vote, let’s also not lose sight of the important and easy fixes we can make to preserve and improve democracy for many more cycles to come.”

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