As longtime RCV backers, you and I have been thinking it; this weekend, Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist Lori Sturdevant wrote it: Ranked Choice Voting would have made so much sense throughout this 2016 presidential campaign winnowing process.
Did you catch her Sunday column, A game of what if? in the presidential race? It describes perfectly why the outdated, first-past-the-post system is such a deeply flawed way to pick a candidate . . . and why it often guarantees a frustratingly unrepresentative outcome.
GOP primary and caucus elections and Democratic ones in situations with more than two candidates on the ballot are not sufficiently (small-d) democratic. They dont allow a majority of voters to coalesce and express its will. To be sure, the candidate with the most votes has won but thats plurality rule, not majority rule, Sturdevant explains.
She quotes FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey about why, under RCV, a candidate whos as polarizing and widely disliked as Donald Trump probably couldnt have fared as well. A candidate like Marco Rubio would have absolutely been a stronger winner, Massey said. Rubio, the Florida senator who led Minnesotas precinct caucus balloting, appeared to be the second- or third-choice candidate of many early-state voters who cast ballots for the likes of Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rand Paul, she said. If those voters had been allowed to express their second and third choices, and if those choices had been registered after their first choices fell far short, Rubio rather than Cruz might have emerged as Trumps main rival.
Sturdevants speculative exercise makes clear that Ranked Choice Voting could go a long way in mitigating voters well-placed fatigue, cynicism, and alienation this election year. Who would have jumped in? Who would have stayed in contention longer? How would the tone of the campaign changed? Those are questions with which to play your own parlor game, she writes.
Well never know for sure what a positive difference RCV could have made in the 2016 presidential race. But we can keep working to expand the use of Ranked Choice Voting throughout Minnesota and paving the way for its adoption in national races.
Sturdevants not the only political commentator to write about the glaring need for RCV this election season; just this weekend, writers in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times made a similar case.
We encourage you to share Sturdevants column with friends and colleagues by email and on social media and to submit your own letter to the editor. Share your experience and why you believe its a smarter, more inclusive, more representative way to vote. (If you like, weve got handy talking points to help you get started.)
Thank you for all you do to advance democracy.