Reforming our political system through ballot proposals in states with the initiative.
Ranked choice voting can be used to elect executive officers (governor, lieutenant governor, etc.) or members of state legislatures. The benefits of ranked-choice voting are not theoretical, they are based on observable differences between our "winner-take-all" system and more genuinely democratic systems.
Combining ranked choice voting for seats in legislatures with multi-member districts incorporates the benefits of proportional representation, a form of government that is in place in 94 countries around the world, including 27 of the world's 35 largest democracies. The state of Maine and numerous cities in the United States have also adopted ranked choice voting.
“Winner-take-all” systems with single member districts are nearly always dominated by two major parties. Countries with some form of proportional representation (like RCV with multimember districts) always have more than two viable political parties. With more candidates running, both within parties and from different parties, RCV gives voters a much broader range of choices. No more "lesser-of-two-evils" elections.
In a “winner-take-all” system with single member districts, voting for a third party or independent candidate can make it more likely that the major party candidate you least support may win over a major party candidate who would be your preferred choice, if limited to a choice between the two major party candidates. With ranked choice voting you can vote for a minor party or independent candidate without worrying about the “spoiler effect” by choosing one or more major party candidates as a lesser preference. .
Candidates competing on the basis of who best represents a party shifts the focus to party platforms and the issues addressed in them. Allowing voters to rank candidates in order of preference tempers intra-party tensions that can arise during the head-to-head competition typical of contested primaries, helps unify a party, and makes it considerably more likely that parties with the most seats in a legislature will be able to pass the legislation called for in their party platform and make good on campaign promises.
Most voters are tired of attack ads and mud-slinging. Attack ads are only effective when candidates compete head-to-head in a winner-take-all system with single member districts. With ranked choice voting, candidates do best when they reach out positively to as many voters as possible, including those supporting their opponents. While candidates must still differentiate themselves to earn first choice support, candidates attacking opponents risks alienating voters who might otherwise cast a vote for them as an alternate choice.
Research has shown that the effects of gerrymandering are neutralized in legislatures electing at least five members from each district. With state-wide, at large elections, gerrymandering is eliminated completely.
Electing members of a legislative body "at large" or from multi-member districts also neutralizes distortions in representation resulting from Democratic dominance in urban areas and Republican dominance in rural areas.
The combined effects of gerrymandering, distortions in representation resulting from uneven partisan distribution, and the advantages of incumbency make most districts "safe" for one of the major parties or the other. The fact that a challenger has almost no chance of winning keeps many potential candidates from running and makes it extremely difficult for those who do run to raise the money and recruit the volunteers necessary to run a viable campaign. With RCV in multi-member districts, every election is competitive and every vote counts.
This video provides a brief overview of using ranked choice voting to elect members of the executive branch (governor, lieutenant governor, etc.). We support using RCV for those offices, as well.
A video discussing the methods and benefits of using ranked choice voting for seats in a legislature with multi-member districts is in production and will be added here soon. Most of the benefits are the same.
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