Larry Bradley’s Ezine #413 Part Two: Why Do We Need Ranked Choice Voting?
Weekly Ezine Number 413
What Is Happening with Election Reform?
What Is Happening with Election Reform?
–This article makes a similar proposal to our own regarding the Electoral College. We need to use Ranked Choice Voting to either ensure a majority winner gets 100% of the Electors or determine who the top two vote getters are and allocate the Electors based on the percentage of the vote those two attain.
-Maine is very close to using RCV as described above. If you would like to help with helping that effort succeed, then go here.
-Early planning Notes: I will be doing three Constitution Day Presentations in September. One at Noon on Sep 17 at Western Iowa Technical Community College in Sioux City, IA. One for the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) campus in Boone, IA on Sep 18 at 9:00 a.m. One at the West Des Moines DMACC campus at 12:15 p.m. on Sep 18.
Part Two: Why Do We Need Ranked Choice Voting?
Our last Ezine described the ills of the ballot we use now, especially in the Presidential election. That ballot forces us to choose between the lesser of two evils instead of enabling us to have a variety of choices and a process that lets us find the choice the majority of voters can agree with.
This Ezine continues from our last, describing some of the other negative impacts of using our current ballot in other elections and offices. As always, our purpose here is to spark discussion and provide a resource you can use to educate those unfamiliar with the benefits of RCV.
First, let’s discuss Primary Elections. Our current ballot discourages the ability of like-minded voters to form a competitive third party. Instead, what we commonly have is hostile takeover attempts. The goal for a subset of voters within a Party is to take over one of the two competitive political parties in order to bring a political philosophy to the General Election.
A rogue element (or elements) within a Political Party decides that policies of an existing Party are not sufficiently robust for the element’s members. Or the element(s) feels that whoever the elected representative is from the Party is not reflecting the element’s values in their performance. Because Primary Elections do not require majority winners, the likelihood of a hostile takeover succeeding is high. Or at least the likelihood is significantly higher than forming a third Party for the General Election.
Because the odds of a hostile takeover succeeding are high, this has three prime impacts. One, an elected representative must be continually wary of providing fuel for a Primary Challenge. This means an elected representative will be extremely wary of endorsing solutions which may be perceived as not adhering to the philosophy of the Party. A recent candidate who declared to run against President Trump in the Republican Primary spoke to this very fear.
The number two impact is that if an element of a Party is able to dominate a Party with less than a majority of the membership, then what does the Party actually stand for? The answer is the Party stands for whatever that plurality of the membership says the Party stands for. (Read our last Ezine for its discussion of a political measuring scale. The same concept applies within Political Parties, not just between Political Parties.)
This leads to impact number three. What if the Party a voter has habitually supported becomes corrupted by a hostile takeover? What are those voters supposed to do? With our current ballot, they only have four choices. Fight to regain control of the Party they have historically supported, hold their nose and vote for the Party they have long opposed, cast a symbolic vote for a loser or stay home. Those voters know trying to create a winning third Party with the ballot in use today is doomed to fail. This quandary is clearly illustrated by the recent calls by a Republican State Senator for his colleagues to speak out in opposition to a prominent member of his own Party.
Here is one other nuance of Primary elections to consider. In some cases in several states, if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, then there is a runoff election between the top two vote getters. Not only is this a major expense to taxpayers (runoff elections are just as costly as primary elections). The incentive for voters whose candidates were defeated to show up a second time is very low. History shows, therefore, that runoff elections winners are often decided by a very low turnout. A distinct minority thereby decides who people get to vote for in the General.
In turn, this results in Independent voters being forced to choose between undesirable candidates.
The disagreeable results described above are why we need RCV in Primary elections. RCV would not allow a rogue element to hijack a Party. RCV would allow Parties to settle their internal conflicts.
RCV would allow a rogue element to form their own party, nominate the candidates of their own choosing and compete on a level playing field for the General Election. That rogue element would be either validated or rejected by their success or failure in the general election. Either result would be beneficial to political and governing progress, because voters would have made a decision about the element. RCV would eliminate the need for a runoff election, thereby saving the election expense and enabling all voters to help determine a majority winner with only a single trip to the polls.
All this is leading up to talking next about the need for Political Parties.
See you next time.