Ranked Choice Voting

Americans are mostly in two camps – Democrats and Republicans.  They’re our teams.  Our tribes.  But what if we had more choices?  In the 2016 Presidential election, the main two candidates between which voters could choose were Trump and Clinton (we know which parties they belong to).  But there were a lot of other candidates on the ballots across the country.  And there were three other major political movements on the ballots in all, or almost all, states – Libertarian Party, Green Party, and Constitution Party.

What if we had ranked choice voting?  For terms of the really close elections in 2016 and 2000, maybe we end up with a President Gore or a second President Clinton?  Maybe, although I don’t think it’s certain.  I’ll leave that question to the people who do the math on these things.

But consider, instead, the possibility that voters could feel free to support a political party more closely in line with their policy preferences.  Since I’m more on the liberal side, I could easily not have the Democratic candidate as my first choice, but maybe Hillary ends up my second choice.  In 2016, I probably would’ve voted for Hillary first, because the only other viable option for me would’ve been the Greens and Jill Stein was a terrible candidate.  But in a world where ranked choice is a thing in all 50 states, I assume the Greens would attract better candidates than the Jill Steins of the world.  And, perhaps, there would be even more political parties to choose from.

Does a world with many more political parties make things more fractured?  Who knows?  But, I’m anxious to see if Ranked Choice can catch on beyond the few jurisdictions where it’s used and, if so, how does it expand the field of options for voters.

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