The Republican Journal
The coming Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) referendum is a rare example of voting rule change that seeks to empower all voters. In elections with more than two candidates for an office, it enhances the power of a voter to influence an election regardless of where he stands in the political spectrum. If your favorite candidate doesn’t win, your second choice gets your vote, whereas, in the present, one-shot voting system, if your candidate doesn’t win, you have no further influence.
Specifically, when there are more than two candidates for an office, RCV would alter the way we vote in a very simple and empowering way. Rather than voting once, for a single candidate, we would rank the candidates in order of our preference. When the votes are counted, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated and the second choices on those ballots are added to the tallies of the remaining candidates.
If there were three candidates in the race, for example, the elimination of the candidate receiving the fewest first-choice votes and then adding in the second choices from the affected ballots will produce a majority of votes for one of the remaining candidates. It works, of course, even if there are multiple candidates for an office.
The present mayor of Portland, Maine, was chosen by RCV from a field of 15 candidates. It is the equivalent of a runoff election, or multiple runoff elections, without the cost to the taxpayer and the inconvenience to the voter of having to go to vote multiple times. And, in most cases, it will produce an election winner having a majority of votes and the greatest consensus support.
Apart from giving the voter more influence, RCV should open up the electoral process to candidates that are not in the political mainstream. A candidate can compete for an office without taking criticism for being a spoiler for a competing candidate with a larger following and, similarly, voters would not need to be concerned about strategic voting, that is, voting for someone other than your favorite candidate because you believe he has a better chance of defeating a third candidate that you more strongly oppose.
I encourage you to support this referendum when it appears on your 2016 ballot.