09 December 2016

Ranked Choice Voting: The Time is Now

Progressives are currently gazing into their navels trying to figure out what they could have changed about the recent presidential campaign.  You hear a gnashing and a wailing: "Oh, we should have listened to the White Working Class better.  Oh, if only Clinton had done a better job of communicating her policies.  Oh, if only we had communicated our policies better to the White Working Class."

But communicating better is not an option.  The Democratic priorities were communicated. Many failed to listen due to apathy.  Communicating better isn't going to solve electoral apathy.  Many failed to listen due to being unwilling to invest enough effort into the election. Many refused to listen.  The alt-right does not care what any Progressive has to say.  They will not listen to Progressives.

Since we cannot reach a large part of the electorate, our only choice is to improve voter turnout for the portion of the electorate that we can reach.

Let's also be clear that write-in votes for Bernie Sanders were not the problem.  And votes for Jill Stein were not the problem.  People trying to express their preferences is not a problem.  The problem is that our current voting system does not allow people to express their preferences.

That's why it's time for us to turn to Ranked Choice Voting.

Ranked Choice Voting would have allowed Jill Stein voters to state their clear preference for Stein while allowing them to also point out that they prefer Clinton to Trump.  Ranked Choice Voting would quite likely have handed the election to Clinton.  (Yes, sure, Trump would have run a different campaign if the rules were different.  More likely, he wouldn't have run a campaign at all if Ranked Choice Voting were in effect.)

Ranked Choice Voting allows voters to fully express their preferences.  People who thought that neither Clinton nor Trump should be president may well have not voted.  Ranked Choice Voting gives these people a voice.  Without Ranked Choice Voting, there is only a small benefit to voting for a minor party candidate.  Recording that you would like the Green Party to be a larger party does perform some small amount of advertising.  But since most people need to vote for the better of the two mainstream candidates, we can't obtain a clear signal as to how important a minor party is to most of America.  With Ranked Choice Voting we could obtain a much clearer signal.  We would see far more votes for minor party candidates.  

As the strength and preference of minor party candidates became apparent, a variety of effects would occur to further increase the number of votes those parties receive.  First, the media would pay more attention to the parties.  Second, as people see the real strength of the parties, they see that supporting those parties is more of a viable option than they had previously considered.  Third, as multiple options become more viable, researching the available options and switching between options becomes more likely.

Sure the potential exists for weakening the Democratic Party.  But in order to be a viable party, the Democrats have no choice.  And the increased voice that is given to various factions among the Progressives will only strengthen us overall.

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