By Rachel MacNair
Ranked choice voting means you can rank your preferences of candidates. If your first choice doesn’t make it by having enough votes, then your second choice counts. And if that person doesn’t make it, your third choice counts, and so on.
Some of us in Kansas City, Mo., are circulating petitions to have voters decide whether to change our current voting system to ranked choice. More than 50 cities and 2 states use this form of voting already, and we have support for it from all current Council members.
Why do we care so much about voting method? Because it means more democracy.
The “lesser evil” conundrum. We keep having to vote for nuclear-weapon-modernizing, belligerent candidates because another candidate is even worse—or we get blamed for being spoilers if we back a third candidate. With ranking, you can vote for the person you actually want first.
Demonization. Currently, candidates have incentives to throw mud. But if they want to get the second-choice rankings of those who support their opponents that are close to them on policy, they don’t want to insult that candidate after all. Experience has shown that ranked choice voting leads candidates to do more to discuss policy than our current system.
Plurality wins and demagoguery. Right now, someone can win with less than a majority of the vote even if the majority of voters can’t stand him or her, so long as other candidates split the remaining vote. This happens a lot, and much damage has been done because of this.
I find Kansas Citians particularly interested that we could have one municipal election instead of two. The ranked choice voting method is “instant runoff.” We currently have a primary and runoff six weeks apart for mayor and City Council members. But we have better ways to spend the $600,000+ taxpayer money than a second election that many voters are annoyed at having to do again so soon.
More info on the petition drive is at http://www.betterballotkc.org. We have a looming deadline of Nov. 15 with a goal of around 7,000 signatures. If you want to help circulate the petitions in KC MO or take on related tasks, please contact me. My cellphone is 816-753-2057; you can email either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We welcome help from both sides of State Line!
—Rachel MacNair, a longtime member of PeaceWorks-KC, is leading the petition drive for ranked choice voting. Copyright 2021, Rachel MacNair, FairVote, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.