June 17, 2015 -- Thanks to the Independence Party of Minnesota for inviting longtime Ranked Choice Voting advocate and Fairvote Minnesota board member Carol Rudie to speak to delegates at its June 6 convention in St. Paul.

Convention goers embraced Rudies message about the power of RCV to broaden political choice and give third-party candidates a viable shot at competing in elections.

Also participating in the convention were FairVote Minnesota board members Tim Penny, the former Congressman and current president of the Southwest Minnesota Initiative Foundation who spoke at the gatherings outset, and author, futurist and former IP chair Jack Uldrich. In a Star Tribune editorial last October, Uldrich wrote about RCVs potential to expand the marketplace of political ideas.

In a nation disenchanted by the parties and the limits of our plurality election system, the IP and other third parties present refreshing alternatives, but they face colossal challenges in convincing voters they can compete. This problem extends beyond any one candidate, race or election cycle. Our challenge is systemic. That doesnt mean its not worth mounting; its imperative that we continue to try, Uldrich wrote.

Yet it also requires big-picture thinking, including implementation of ranked-choice voting at the state and national levels. This not only would give voters more choice and power, it would eliminate the wasted vote syndrome; reduce the role of money in campaigns, and foster greater civility, compromise and consensus-building to address our states critical issues.

Delegates who initially had questions about the partys support for RCV came out voicing a new understanding of its importance in reshaping campaign discussions. One former opponent found his opinion changing dramatically: after learning how RCV works, he left keenly aware of why this reform is essential to improving elections.

Penny said support for Ranked Choice Voting continues to be strong among IP members, who recognize the need to remove structural barriers inherent in the outmoded plurality voting system.

Independence Party voters are uniquely aware of how the status quo stifles political diversity, and they know that RCV would open up the process to smart, qualified candidates outside the two major parties, Penny said. Having said that, many of RCVs benefits have universal appeal. Valuing civil, substantive discourse and the ability to compromise for the greater good? Thats not just an IP thing. I think every voter wants that.