Event Report: Ranked Choice Voting: Better Elections? Find Out! by Jacob Hurt
On April 21st, LWV-Falls Church hosted a forum on the process of Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV), a method by which voters can vote by ranking multiple candidates and have those votes count even if their top choice is eliminated. Professor Sally Hudson of the University of Virginia, one of the founders of FairVote Virginia, gave a presentation on how RCV works, where and how it is currently used, and its benefits. FairVote is a nationwide nonpartisan organization that describes itself as “the driving force behind advancing ranked choice voting”, of which FairVote VA is a chapter.
RCV’s main benefits, according to FairVote, are more civil campaigns, as candidates must appeal to voters rather than attack opponents, and more choices for voters.
Professor Hudson touted two of RCV’s recent success stories – the Mayoral races for Santa Fe, NM and Minneapolis, MN – where the winners praised the civility of the campaign and the high voter turnout. She also discussed the various ways that RCV education occurs in places it is allowed. For example, Maine voters – who will be using RCV for the first time in 2018 – were asked to rank beers. In Minnesota, children are taught RCV through ranking of candy bars at farmers’ markets. The crowd then voted for their favorite among 5 former First Ladies as a demonstration of the process.
RCV is in use for elections in at least 11 states currently, and 4 use it for their military/overseas ballots. Legislatively, the Fair Representation Act (HR 3057) was introduced in Congress last June by Rep. Don Beyer (VA-8), and HB 553 was introduced into the Virginia General Assembly’s 2018 session by Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) where it passed the Privileges and Elections Committee 22-0 before being left in Appropriations at Crossover. Prof. Hudson described RCV’s wide support among the political organizations she has presented to and addressed various questions and concerns brought up by them and by those in attendance.
Professor Hudson’s asks for the crowd? 1) Endorse RCV through your parent organization, 2) Adopt the process for your internal elections so you can see its benefits, 3) Meet with your legislators about RCV, 4) Host an informational session like a house party or meeting, and 5) Make RCV part of the discussion around the debates and at the Primary elections coming up in June.
For more information about FairVote VA and Ranked Choice Voting, go to https://www.fairvoteva.org.