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Make voting better this way

The Citizen

It’s over! We can all rejoice! Political ad season is finally over!

If there’s one thing voters on the left and right can agree on, it’s this: We can’t wait to be rid of the ads. Truth be told, we were ready to be done back in November.

But because a senator decided to retire mid-term instead of at the end of his last term, and because a podcasting veteran who solicited and spent no campaign money at all managed to take 2.3% of the vote in a three-way race against two incredibly well-funded large party opponents, we’ve been swamped with ads in our mailboxes, on YouTube, robocalls, loaded surveys, even “get out the vote” Christmas cards.

On top of that, trust in both the voting machines and absentee voting is understandably low. Sure, we might be able to work out reforms and improvements in time for next November, but has anything gotten better this time around? Are we in for a miniature repeat of the recounts and challenges that we’ve seen with the Presidential election?

There has to be a better way.

What if I told you that we could eliminate runoff season altogether, without giving up the rule that a candidate has to reach a majority to win? What if I told you that there was a way to give each voter more power to express their opinion without “throwing their vote away”? A way to encourage candidates to reach across ideological boundaries for support outside of their base? A way to avoid the taxpayer expense of running two elections?

It’s called Ranked Choice Voting, or Instant Runoff Voting. And it’s simple. When you have a ballot with more than two options for a race, RCV lets you rank them by number, from favorite to least. When the votes are tabulated, the #1 choice on your ballot is “your vote.” If a candidate gets a clear majority of votes in this way, they win! It’s exactly the same as any other election.

In the case that none of the candidates manages in that first round of counting to reach the goal post to be counted a clear winner, the lowest vote-taker is removed from consideration. If the eliminated candidate was your #1, then your #2 becomes your vote. Votes are then re-tallied. This process is repeated, eliminating one candidate at a time, until the true winner emerges.

Ranked Choice Voting is an idea whose time has come. It’s already been used in several other states for municipal, military, even presidential primary voting. Cambridge, Massachusetts has been using it for local elections since 1940. Let’s bring it to Georgia, and eliminate runoff chaos once and for all.

Danny Dolan

Tyrone, Ga.

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