Voices & Choices

What’s on the menu? How about a delightful [dis]course on ranked choice voting

What’s on the menu? How about a delightful [dis]course on ranked choice voting

I may be a tenderfoot to the world of electoral reform, but like most FairVoters, I’m already exceptionally well-versed on the positive impacts of ranked choice voting (RCV).

It provides more choices for voters, reduces mud-slinging among candidates, mitigates the impact of money on politics, and overall creates a more fair and functional democracy.

I can recite these benefits backwards, forwards, and in a variety of fun accents, as is expected of all FairVote staffers.

Not only do I have these benefits memorized, but I wholeheartedly believe in them, and not just because they’ve been embedded into my consciousness through a rigorous FairVote onboarding conditioning process.

I’m kidding, of course.

I truly do believe in the power of ranked choice voting. I believe in it so much that I wonder what sort of impact RCV could have not only on democracy, but on American family dynamics.

In just a few days’ time, families across the country will come together to celebrate one of America’s favorite holidays. While you unfortunately cannot use ranked choice voting to elect which family members take seats in your own personal house (or can you?), the concept and practice of RCV can be useful this Thanksgiving in so many other ways.

As a non-partisan issue, ranked choice voting provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your political prowess without the whole family erupting into partisan bickering. More divisive topics might be off-limits this holiday season, but RCV can bring together conservatives, progressives, and even that one conspiratorialist cousin.

And while ranked choice voting is not a new concept, these days it’s gaining more favor in the mainstream media. Bringing it up in casual conversation will not only secure your position as the go-to source of electoral reform news (every family needs one), but it also provides a more interesting conversation starter than the usual pleasantries (Are you dating anyone? When are you going to give me grandbabies? Which way are we passing the plates?).

All that said, your ranked choice voting dialogue will fall flat if you’re not prepared. Take a glance through some of the following tried and true examples and you’ll be sneaking RCV seamlessly into the conversation in no time.

  1. Ranked choice voting allows you to rank your candidates in order of choice instead of choosing just one. You can work this one in just as your Grandma Muriel starts questioning your life choices. “Speaking of choices...” you might interject. “Have you heard of ranked choice voting?” See what I mean? Seamless.
  2. Ranked choice voting has been endorsed by politicians on both sides of the aisle, including former President Barack Obama and the late Senator John McCain. This will come in handy when you overhear the brink of a bipartisan squabble; jump in and save Thanksgiving Day!
  3. Ranked choice voting is used statewide in Maine and in several other cities across the United States. Internationally, it’s used in parts of Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Canada. Chances are you have at least one relation who’s from one of these places, has traveled to one of these countries, or wants to visit one of these locations someday. Find your ‘in.’
  4. Ranked choice voting eliminates runoff elections by streamlining multiple rounds of voting into just a single election. Apply this to your Thanksgiving by selecting your first, second, and third choice of pies all at once, and then piling them all onto one plate. No need to go back for round two.
  5. Ranked choice voting eliminates the “spoiler effect,” even if your second cousins can’t do the same with their offspring. Little Skyler’s meltdown over a plate of green beans will go down in family history, and you can take the opportunity to offer a combination of passive-aggressive parental advice and electoral expertise. “Did you know that ranked choice voting removes the potential for a spoiler effect?” you say, a mischievous twinkle in your eye as you turn to your cousin.

For more fun conversation starters, take some time to poke around our website and invent a few of your own!

From our table to yours, Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at FairVote.

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Illustration by Mikhaila Markham

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