Voices & Choices

Washington Post Columnist Henry Olsen Points to Ranked Choice Voting as Solution to Presidential Primary Flaws

Washington Post Columnist Henry Olsen Points to Ranked Choice Voting as Solution to Presidential Primary Flaws

This week, as former Vice President Joe Biden formally assumes the role as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer at the Democratic National Convention, it is instructive to remember how we got here.

In the past year and a half, 29 legitimate candidates vied for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination—slogging through the early states, Super Tuesday, and eventually the virtual campaign trail in the process.

It was also a process with millions of “wasted votes” (voters who cast ballots for candidates who subsequently dropped out) as well as limited choice—because many voters faced an already-winnowed field by the time their state’s primary rolled around.

Prominent conservative columnist Henry Olsen has a solution to these problems: ranked choice voting.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, titled, “Let’s Fix Our Flawed Primaries with Ranked-Choice Voting,” Olsen makes the case for utilizing ranked choice voting (RCV) to improve the presidential primary process and to serve in lieu of a party convention. In the piece, he astutely describes some of the major benefits of the method.

“[Ranked choice voting] would give lesser-known candidates a real shot at winning and ultimately nominate the candidate with the broadest popular appeal…. Ranked-choice voting would also empower genuine voter choice as lesser-funded candidates could stay in the race while voters use their subsequent preferences to choose between the finalists.”

Furthermore, by assuring voters that their choice matters and empowering candidates to run positive, civil, and issues-based campaigns, RCV would serve a twofold purpose in presidential primaries: giving the party a candidate whom its voters can coalesce around and ensuring that the candidate is not overly weakened by the primary process.

Olsen’s support of RCV makes clear that the method is not a Democratic or a Republican idea. It is simply a good idea—and one that we hope to see in broad use during the 2024 presidential primary.

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