img Proposals

Promoting a Ranked-Choice Voting System
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ONC Editorial

Dec 12, 2023

RCV is a clear remedy for the extreme polarization present in our current democracy. (The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the individual author, Neesha Patel.)

Big Picture

The rank-choice voting electoral system has the potential to diminish the prevalence of political polarization seen in America’s current democracy. This system will promote cooperation and diversity in elections. 

Operative Definitions

  1. Rank-choice Voting (RCV): An electoral system that allows voters to rank candidates by preference: first-choice, second-choice etc.
  2. Political Polarization: The divergence of political attitudes between liberals and conservatives, or Republicans and Democrats

Important Facts and Statistics

  1. First-time RCV users in a location election in 2018 reported more positive campaigning; 67% of respondents believed that the election was more positive than prior elections.
  2. A 2021 analysis found that candidates in cities using RCV were more likely to cooperate with each other.

Two-Point Plan

(1) Provide a RCV transition program. Provide assistance to state and local governments to transition to a ranked-choice voting electoral system for federal, state or local elections. 

(2) Provide grants to support the transition to RCV. Award grants to state and local governments to support the transition to a ranked-choice voting electoral system. The monetary value of grants may vary based on the size and/or population of state and local areas. This grant can be used for acquiring voting equipment, ensuring appropriate ballot design, developing and publishing easy-to-read educational materials for the voter public, and conducting voter outreach.

Why This Initiative Is Important

This proposal will help state and local governments adopt the RCV system for their elections, making the transition process less complex and more appealing. RCV is a clear remedy for the extreme polarization present in our current democracy. RCV can improve elections by giving voters more choices, detering uncivil political campaigning, and encouraging candidates to appeal to a broad majority of voters. RCV is also a crucial step in creating an effective and equal political arena for all Americans. Female and minority candidates tend to run and win more in elections that use RCV ballots, indicating that the electoral system can help bring more leaders from underrepresented groups into today’s political arena.

Acknowledgements

The following student worked on this proposal: Neesha Patel, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Sources

John, Sarah. “Data for: The Alternative Vote: Do Changes in Single-Member Voting Systems Affect Descriptive Representation of Women and Minorities?” Mendeley Data, Mendeley Data, 29 May 2018, https://data.mendeley.com/datasets/3dmj76jvz2/1.  

Kropf, Martha. “Using Campaign Communications to Analyze Civility in Ranked Choice Voting Elections: Article.” Politics and Governance, 15 June 2021, https://www.cogitatiopress.com/politicsandgovernance/article/view/4293.  

“Santa Fe Voters Support Ranked Choice Voting and Have High Confidence in City Elections” Fairvote, March 2018, https://fairvote.app.box.com/v/SantaFeExitReport.

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