Ranked choice voting fever continues to spread as more states and localities consider following the lead of Maine, the first state to use the voting system. Republican legislators are introducing many ranked voting bills, showing that the partisan battle seen in Maine may not be repeated nationally. A change to ranked voting and away from the universally used plurality voting system is beginning to be seen by many in both parties as a potential gamechanger. First comes the news out of Missouri:
The proposal filed to go before lawmakers in the new legislative session would require federal, state and local elections to use the Instant Runoff Voting Method (IRV). The IRV bill from Republican Representative Dan Stacy of Blue Springs would establish a form of casting ballots in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. In the event that one candidate fails to achieve a 50 percent-plus-one majority, the candidate with the fewest number of first-preference rankings is eliminated and those votes are redistributed. The process is repeated until one candidate achieves the required majority.
The second headline comes from Wyoming:
Senate File 65 is being sponsored by Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D-Albany County. Senate co-sponsors include Sen. Cale Case (R-Fremont County) and Wendy Schuler (R-Uinta County. House sponsors of the measure include Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Laramie County) and Rep. Mike Yin (D-Teton County).
The bill would allow voters to cast ballots for candidates from either or both parties in order of preference, assuming there are more than two candidates running. If any candidate won an outright majority of first-preference votes in an election, that candidate would be declared the winner.
But if no candidate wins a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated, and the voters who voted for that candidate as their first choice would then have their second-choice votes added to the vote totals of the remaining candidates.
According to Democracy Chronicles’ friends at at the nonpartisan nonprofit FairVote, an organization with its headquarters in Takoma Park, Maryland:
Ranked choice voting (RCV) makes democracy more fair and functional. It works in a variety of contexts. It is a simple change that can have a big impact. With ranked choice voting, voters can rank as many candidates as they want in order of choice. Candidates do best when they attract a strong core of first-choice support while also reaching out for second and even third choices.
When used as an “instant runoff” to elect a single candidate like a mayor or a governor, RCV helps elect a candidate that better reflects the support of a majority of voters. When used as a form of fair representation voting to elect more than one candidate like a city council, state legislature or even Congress, RCV helps to more fairly represent the full spectrum of voters.
Other states and localities that have recently seen legislation proposed to make the switch to ranked choice voting include Connecticut, Vermont, the city of Baltimore, and at least four cities in Utah. Click those four links for related Democracy Chronicles coverage!