It’s hard to witness what’s going on in this country and not worry about the future of our democracy. When I see the divisive language and the demonization of those with different political views, it feels like we are at war with each other. The way we run elections has a lot to do with this. Party-based primary elections often increase partisanship, with the more centrist or moderate candidates losing to candidates with extreme ideological views that appeal to the fringes of their party.
There is another way, and that is through ranked choice voting or RCV. Voters rank their choices from best to least favorite candidates, instead of voting one candidate up and all others down. RVC provides an outcome more reflective of the majority of voters than either our current primary system (with extreme candidates “playing to their base”) or current general elections (where third-party candidates can have a “spoiler effect”). Winners of RCV elections have to work really hard to learn what the community wants and be responsive to the most voters. Most importantly, candidates may shy away from negative campaigning that would alienate the supporters of other candidates, instead trying to appeal to those voters as their second or third choice.
Ranked choice voting promotes respectful dialogue, and it discourages the partisanship and divisiveness running rampant in politics these days. Politics should help us, not drive us apart. Ranked choice voting will help toward that end.
Alan Morris, Rochester