Make voting better this way

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It’s over! We can all rejoice! Political ad season is finally over!

If there’s one thing voters on the left and right can agree on, it’s this: We can’t wait to be rid of the ads. Truth be told, we were ready to be done back in November.

But because a senator decided to retire mid-term instead of at the end of his last term, and because a podcasting veteran who solicited and spent no campaign money at all managed to take 2.3% of the vote in a three-way race against two incredibly well-funded large party opponents, we’ve been swamped with ads in our mailboxes, on YouTube, robocalls, loaded surveys, even “get out the vote” Christmas cards.

On top of that, trust in both the voting machines and absentee voting is understandably low. Sure, we might be able to work out reforms and improvements in time for next November, but has anything gotten better this time around? Are we in for a miniature repeat of the recounts and challenges that we’ve seen with the Presidential election?

There has to be a better way.

What if I told you that we could eliminate runoff season altogether, without giving up the rule that a candidate has to reach a majority to win? What if I told you that there was a way to give each voter more power to express their opinion without “throwing their vote away”? A way to encourage candidates to reach across ideological boundaries for support outside of their base? A way to avoid the taxpayer expense of running two elections?

It’s called Ranked Choice Voting, or Instant Runoff Voting. And it’s simple. When you have a ballot with more than two options for a race, RCV lets you rank them by number, from favorite to least. When the votes are tabulated, the #1 choice on your ballot is “your vote.” If a candidate gets a clear majority of votes in this way, they win! It’s exactly the same as any other election.

In the case that none of the candidates manages in that first round of counting to reach the goal post to be counted a clear winner, the lowest vote-taker is removed from consideration. If the eliminated candidate was your #1, then your #2 becomes your vote. Votes are then re-tallied. This process is repeated, eliminating one candidate at a time, until the true winner emerges.

Ranked Choice Voting is an idea whose time has come. It’s already been used in several other states for municipal, military, even presidential primary voting. Cambridge, Massachusetts has been using it for local elections since 1940. Let’s bring it to Georgia, and eliminate runoff chaos once and for all.

Danny Dolan

Tyrone, Ga.

3 COMMENTS

  1. There is another tremendous advantage to IRV methods (Ranked Choice is one, Condorcet is another): You no longer have worry about throwing away your vote when acting on principle. Consider the following scenario: You’re a lifelong Republican voter, but you’re disillusioned with the party and really think that the Libertarians or the Constitution party would do a better job. But you don’t think either has a snowballs chance in Augusta of ever making it. So if you vote your conscience, then risk having a Democrat win, which to you is far worse than a Republican winning. So you continue to vote Red like you’ve always done. (You can imagine the same scenario for a Democrat voter who really would rather have the Green Party implement their policies.) With IRV you can vote according to conscience by putting your principled choice in 1st place and having your “safe” choice in 2nd.

    The more you learn about IRV, the more you’ll like it. Unless you’re a political consultant, pollster, or ad agency.

    • To build on what you talked about we should get rid of the electoral college while we’re at it. The electoral college makes the presidential election was down to a few thousand votes in a couple states, when Biden won the popular vote by millions. This would require presidential candidates to focus on issues that the whole nation cares about rather than what Pennsylvanians or Georgians care about. They spent so much time talking about fracking because of the relatively small fracking industry in PA and those voters could have decided the election.

      This would also fix the issue that if your a republican in CA or democrat in AL your vote is pointless either way your state is going to go to the opposite party. Without the electoral college every vote holds the same sway over the election. A voter in NYC has the same effect on the result as a voter in PTC. This means that cities would have a larger impact than small towns but there are a lot more small towns than there are big cities. The greater NYC metro area with it’s 19 million people isn’t even 1% of the US population, fears that if would encourage candidates to focus on cities at the expense of rural areas are valid but greatly exaggerated.

      Another thing we should do is expand the house to have one representative for every 300,000 people versus the one for every 700,000 it currently is. 3/4 of a million people is far to many for one person to represent well. This expansion would put the number of representatives around 1,000, which is not that crazy the UK has 646 members in its house of commons representing 91,000 people each.

  2. Danny, I appreciate the creativity and can assure you that I am certainly willing to listen to any alternative that allows us to skip runoff, the annoying commercials and the wasteful spending by the remaining candidates. My answering machine and mailbox are hanging on by a thread 🙂