Podcast – November 18, 2019

The Case For Ranked Choice Voting. New York recently adopted a system to replace the traditional plurality-based system. In the plurality system, the candidate with the most votes wins even if the winning candidate has received less than half the vote. And that happens in every election cycle. Too often, voters cast votes for the top federal and state offices. But leave the ballot for lower offices blank. This often results in the winning candidate having received only 40 percent or less of the overall vote. And it’s even more true in the party primaries.

The alternative is ranked choice voting which ensures that the winner receives a majority (50 percent or more) of the vote.

The system is already being used in Maine for general elections and it is being tried in a number of other states for the party primaries. Here’s how it works: Voters rank candidates as their #1 choice, #2 choice and so on. When the votes are totaled, if no candidate has received a majority of the vote, the candidate(s) with the fewest votes are eliminated. But the ballots for those who voted for them still count. Their vote is assigned to their second choice and the votes are again counted. The process continues until one candidate receives a majority.

The hope is that, especially in the primaries, the process will eliminate the most extreme candidates. There is also hope that it will improve the chances of third party candidates.

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