Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Runoff

This is going to be a long post, but it concludes with my Official Endorsement for 2016, so before you move on once you see the “Continue Reading” button (I’m looking at you, Pat) please take the time to at least click the link below to read up about Ranked Choice Voting and find out how it can potentially change the way our elections are ran.
I was thinking about writing one last epistle tonight about why I’m opposing Donald Trump. But while I’m not sure I’ve made my actual reasons completely clear already, it won’t change anybody’s minds and would only serve to alienate people and risk starting a flame war (namely with my brother, heh). Instead what I want to write about this Election Eve is something I’ve already mentioned the past couple of days. Something that I’ve become convinced can be a force for positive change in our political discourse. It’s this voting method called Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Run-off.
The gist of it is as follows: Instead of voting for just one person, you would rank the candidates in order of preference, or omit somebody you really don’t like completely. Say you were agonizing under the current system about voting your conscience and voting third party, but you don’t want to “waste” your vote and you really don’t want Trump to win so you feel compelled to vote for Clinton (or vice versa). Under RCV, you could go ahead and vote third party as your first choice, then the so-called “lesser of two evils” as your second, and if there was yet another third party candidate maybe them, and if there’s that one guy you absolutely DO NOT WANT to see win, just leave them out.
So what happens next is that everybody’s First Place votes get tallied up, and if nobody gets at least 50% for a definitive majority, then the vote goes into an Instant Runoff; the candidate with the fewest First Place votes is eliminated, and that person’s SECOND PLACE votes get divvied up among their designated recipients; i.e., say the ousted candidate’s Second Place votes went 60/40 for the top two, for example; those votes then get added to the remaining candidate’s current totals. If there were more than three candidates and the second round still didn’t produce a 50% winner, then the next candidate with the fewest votes is out and THEIR Second Place votes get divvied up. Eventually you’ll see a candidate reach the 50% threshold and win.
How does this benefit the process? Think about it: you’re not only campaigning for voters’ FIRST PLACE VOTES…you’re campaigning for the SECOND PLACE VOTES of those you know are likely to give their First Place vote to someone else. You’re not going to be as obnoxious or negative in your campaigning. You’re going to make an effort to reach out to as many people as you can, and you’re going to have to tailor your policies to be as broad as possible; being the proud moderate that I am, in my admittedly idealized vision of this scenario, our political discourse would no longer be about two extremes that turn off the majority of voters who are traditionally moderates, and it would serve to moderate and alleviate the polarizing nature of our current poisonous political culture.
This is a system already in place in parts of the country, usually localized city elections like the Mayor of Minneapolis; there’s a really good video clip on the website linked below where the current mayor discusses exactly what I wrote about in the paragraph above. It’s a real thing with support from prominent personalities including President Obama from back when he was a Senator, as well as John McCain, and Bernie Sanders among others. I’m sure there are drawbacks to this method, but it certainly can’t be any worse than what we have now.
While I realize that as a whole, both Democrats and Republicans on the national level would be opposed to this in a Presidential election as it would potentially empower third parties and give them greater prominence, I believe this is a worthy cause to get behind for the sake of improving our contentious electoral process. So if you want to know my Official Endorsement for 2016…it is for Ranked Choice Voting.
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