Ranked Choice Voting - a good idea

Seeley Swan Pathfinder

I see Ranked Choice Voting as part of a suite of reforms that might lead to more reasonable politics.

Are you looking for practical solutions to the many problems we face in common, instead of the rhetoric of political extremism? Then Ranked Choice Voting may be for you. In this system, voters first rank candidates by preference. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, that candidate wins the election. If no one wins a majority, second-preference votes come into play. A new count determines whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. This process is repeated until a candidate wins a clear majority.

It’s not that complicated, really, but why go through it? There are several reasons.

The process requires a winner to reach more than 50% of the vote. It brings forward candidates that the majority of voters would like to see in office. It eliminates the outsized power of a passionate minority of voters and the targeting of those voters by unscrupulous politicians.

This matters the most in party primaries, in which many candidates can split the vote, allowing an extremist or unqualified candidate to win with a percentage much less than 50%.

Aside from making our votes more likely to reflect the people’s will instead of that of extremists on either side, this method gives third-party candidates a chance because people will not feel they are wasting their vote. This is not a chance that interferes with the will of the majority.

This process also stabilizes our political parties and leads to more reasonable, consistent platforms, as parties do not have to court extremists in order to win in primaries.

The state of Maine used rank-choice voting for the first time statewide in 2018, and Alaska voters approved it in a referendum last year. New York City has used it in a special election for a City Council seat and plans to use it this June for mayoral primaries. In Colorado and Utah, cities have been using ranked choice voting.

In Montana, HB452 would allow ranked choice voting in communities that approve it. This is a good start on an idea whose time has come. If you would like to see this procedure in your community, please let your representatives know.

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