“Third parties” have been getting a great deal of momentum in recent years, and some people are blaming their voter base for affecting the results of this election. Regardless, third party voters are demanding that their voices be heard. Democrats and Republicans have two options at this point: a) fight the very existence of third parties, or b) change laws to handle increased voter choice.
Since fighting the existence of third parties is backfiring horribly, the latter seems to be the best way to approach this. The change can be most easily accomplished while still upholding majority rule by using ranked voting, which provides a number of advantages over plurality voting.
How does ranked voting work?
When ranked voting is used, voters rank candidates from first to last in a hierarchy. It starts like a plurality election, where the candidate with the majority of first choices wins the election. However, if no one has more than half of the votes, an “instant runoff” tally is done between the top two candidates. One by one, the last place candidate is eliminated, and all votes for him/her are assigned to the voter’s next choice. When it’s down to two, the winner earns a majority of the vote.
What is the biggest issue with our current system?
We constantly feel forced into voting the “lesser of two evils”. This became glaringly obvious in 2016, because both major party’s candidates had the highest negative ratings in history. But every election, millions of Americans disregard their real preferences so that they can feel as though they didn’t “waste” their votes.
What are the advantages of ranked voting?
Ranked voting will end this “lesser of two evils” argument, because it allows you to honestly rank candidates without worrying about a) how others will vote, or b) who is more likely to win. No one will have fears of “vote splitting” or “election spoiling”. Voters will be able to vote for the candidates who they support, not simply against candidates who they oppose. In fact, with ranked voting, the only way to waste your vote is to vote against a candidate.
Ranked voting creates more competition, which encourages better dialogue on issues, improved civility, and more inclusive governing. It also allows voters to send politicians direct messages about their policies; candidates will be forced to be more responsive to more voters.
Does it work?
Ranked voting has been proven to increase voter turnout, keep unpopular candidates out of office, and it is used by tens of millions of voters in Australia, Ireland, Scotland, and some cities in the US, UK, and New Zealand. The system is endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, John McCain, Howard Dean, Jill Stein, and the League of Women’s Voters.
Ultimately, ranked voting is about fair outcomes over partisan calculation. It’s about making democracy stronger for future generations. As Dean said about this topic, “The stakes are too high to diminish our voices.”