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The national push for ranked-choice voting

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 11:12 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2021 at 6:04 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - According to FairVote, an electoral reform organization, ranked-choice voting is used in 25 cities across the country. It’s used for statewide elections in Maine, and in 2024, it will be the way residents of Alaska vote for the next U.S President.

Rob Richie with FairVote says there is a bipartisan push to adopt the new electoral system across the country.

“Ranked-choice voting is about giving voters a back-up,” said Richie.

It allows voters the option to rank candidates in order of preference: one, two, three and so forth. If your vote cannot help your top choice win, your vote counts for your next choice.

Richie says 29 state legislatures are considering ranking proposals in local, statewide or primary elections.

“When you are limited to just a single choice, you are sort leaving your opinions out about what you think of others,” said Richie. “And that begins to matter the more people that are running.”

Advocates claim ranked-choice voting will minimize strategic voting, meaning you’ll no longer feel the need to choose the “lesser of two evils,” so to speak.

Critics, however, fear the process is too confusing for some voters to understand.

“When you make voting more complicated there will be negative consequences,” said Professor Jason McDaniel of San Francisco State University

Pointing to years of research, McDaniel says, where it’s newly implemented, he expects to see ballot errors and an initial drop in voter attendance and minority representation at the polls.

“My take on ranked-choice voting is that the claims, the hoped-for sort of benefits are somewhat exaggerated,” said McDaniel. “I think if we look to our electoral system to change our political problems without thinking about the negative effect it can have on voters, I think that’s a bad way to go.”

Looking at historical election system trends, McDaniel says complete national acceptance of ranked-choice voting appears unlikely.

As part of a massive election reform bill, H.R1, Congressional Democrats are aiming to ensure states have voting systems that can administer ranked-choice voting. That legislation has passed the U.S House of Representatives.

Copyright 2021 Gray DC. All rights reserved.

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