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Could Ranked-Choice Voting Come to Wisconsin?
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Ranked-choice voting – a voting method that a lot of people don’t know much about – is gaining popularity around the country, but could it come to Wisconsin?
What is Ranked-Choice Voting?
Ranked-choice voting lets voters rank candidates from their favorite to their least-favorite. It works like this: When election officials tally the votes, they count all the ballots for voters’ first choices. If one candidate gets an outright majority of the votes, he or she wins the election. However, if no candidate receives a clear majority, the candidate with the fewest first choices ticked on the ballet is eliminated from the race. The ballots that put that candidate first are then counted by the second choice.
Let’s say I’m running for office with two other candidates. If I receive 250,000 votes and Candidate B receives 200,000 votes, but Candidate C receives 100,000 votes, Candidate C will be eliminated. The ballots that chose Candidate C as the “favorite” are broken up by whether they voted for me or Candidate B. One of us will then become a clear winner.
The process repeats and last-place candidates keep losing until one candidate gets the majority.
It’s really shaking up the status quo, but could it come to Wisconsin?
Some people say it can.
According to ranked-choice voting proponent Carl Nelson, it’s the only way forward.
“We elect our leaders with a system called ‘first past the post,’ in which the person with the most votes wins. While this sounds logical, it produces bad results. It prevents third-party candidates from having a shot and pushes our two parties apart instead of to the center. This happens because of the spoiler effect: Voters know their vote is wasted on a third-party candidate, so they pick the less-distasteful main-party candidate instead of picking a candidate who shares their values,” says Nelson.
Nelson also says that ranked-choice voting encourages a “more diverse array of political ideas and discourages partisanship.”
What Do You Think?
Do you think ranked-choice voting is a good idea, and could it work in Wisconsin? Utah, Oregon and Maine have adopted it, and New York and New Jersey use it in local elections. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or join the conversation on Twitter.