Ranked choice voting (or RCV) means that when you go in to vote you have the option of ranking all of the candidates running for each office. Why would you want to do this? Great question! Below are just some of the reasons for and benefits of it. But before we get to that, here's a quick 2 minute video from our friends at FairVote that explains how it works:
More Positive & Solution-Oriented Campaigns
RCV is used with a majority vote, not a plurality vote, meaning that the candidate who wins has the most broad support of voters. Why is that important? Because it means candidates can't just focus on their own base of support, get them to turnout, spend the rest of the time attacking the other candidates, and using fear-based tactics.
Candidates might just want the supporters of another candidate to list them as their second choice, so it makes them "play nice" and focus on what their own solutions are to problems. In short, instead of the negative downward spiral of elections that turns everyone off, RCV breaks that cycle and starts a positive, upward spiral where candidates are competing to have the best solutions that makes as many people happy as possible (after all, that's kind of the point of politics!)
Shorter & Less Costly Elections
For several decades, many cities around Florida have been using a majority vote, 2 round run-off style of elections. Voter turnout almost always drops off between the first and second rounds. With RCV, that second round is eliminated because the voters already listed who their backup choices were the first time they went to vote. You automatically have higher participation in the final decisions, and guess what, all of the rest of society is saved 8 weeks or more of listening to campaign ads on tv, mailers, etc. Voter fatigue is a real and serious thing, and RCV helps combat it!
Right now 37% of registered voters in Florida are Democrats, 35% Republican, and 27% No Party Affiliation or other, yet the only candidates who win office are either the D or R candidates. The two big parties have done a masterful job all around the country of scaring voters into believing they are the only game in town and to vote for a 3rd party candidate or an independent is a waste of a vote.
Ranked choice voting eliminates the spoiler effect because it allows voters to list their preferred independent or 3rd party candidate first but just in case that person doesn't get enough votes, they can still list the party that they lean towards second. How many times have you heard others say, or maybe said yourself, "Gee I really like so and so, the independent candidate, but I just don't think they have a chance to win, so I'm going to vote for the D or R candidate instead"?
So many candidates around Florida and the country over the years have tried to give the people what they want of a serious alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, only for the voters to be too afraid to vote for them. With RCV, those candidates will see an inflection point where they will go from being well-liked and only getting 0-15% of the vote, to potentially winning! Not only that, the D & R candidates will have to up their game and take all of their competition more seriously. America is at its best when it is a meritocracy, not a fearocracy. RCV makes candidates run on their merits and win on their merits.
Tell Me More!
If you would like to learn more about ranked choice voting, our friends at Fairvote.org have a wealth of information and resources. RCV is already being used in 26 states to some degree, with the most exciting recent news being its complete usage statewide in Maine!