Andrew Yang and Ranked Choice Voting
How former presidential candidate Andrew Yang is advocating for better elections
By Matthew Oberstaedt
Over the past few months, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang has taken big strides to promote ranked choice voting (RCV) at a state, local, and national level. The Forward Party, which Yang founded, features RCV as one of its central reforms. He advocates for RCV in his book, FORWARD: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy. He has celebrated RCV and the Fair Representation Act in national media appearances. And perhaps most exciting to us, Andrew Yang joined FairVote Action’s Board of Directors last year.
Yang isn’t alone in concluding that RCV will improve our democracy. Hundreds of politicians across the nation and across the political spectrum support this simple but powerful upgrade to our elections. Dozens of RCV bills have been introduced in state legislatures, and have passed in several. Most recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Rep. Dean Phillips’s Voter Choice Act, which helps fund RCV elections in states and cities, as part of the Protecting Our Democracy Act.
It’s no secret why RCV has such wide appeal. Our plurality voting system fails us year after year. It picks winners with just a small plurality of the vote, incentivizes negative attacks, drives polarization, and pressures Americans to be ‘strategic’ with their vote rather than follow their conscience. Voters know it, and candidates know it too.
Andrew Yang’s support for RCV has roots in his own electoral experience. He has run in both plurality and RCV elections, seeing the effects of both systems firsthand. After running in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, he collaborated with former Republican candidate Bill Weld to write an Op-Ed arguing that RCV should be used more widely in the process.
“It’s time we bring our presidential primary process into the 21st Century by adopting ranked choice voting. This promising non-partisan electoral reform would give voters more voice, choice and power in the primary process.” — Andrew Yang and Bill Weld
Just a few months later, Yang went on to run in New York City’s first ever RCV mayoral primary — an experience that strengthened his support for the reform. During the campaign, Yang tweeted positively about the reform, and even held joint events with fellow candidate Kathryn Garcia urging his supporters to rank her second.
More recently, Andrew Yang endorsed the Fair Representation Act, which implements ranked choice voting in multi-member Congressional districts to ensure that Congress better reflects the diversity of opinion in the United States. Yang told the Washington Post that the act is “a phenomenal advance” that would “have different points of view being represented, even if they didn’t get 51 percent of the vote.”
Yang’s experience isn’t unusual: Running or voting in RCV races is a common way for people to become convinced of its merits. We saw it in Utah’s 2020 Republican and Democratic conventions, where using RCV for nominations inspired legislators to pass a bill helping more cities opt-in. We saw it again in New York City’s primaries, where 77 percent of voters said it should be used in future elections. We’ll continue to see it as RCV grows nationwide.
On January 10, Yang will join FairVote CEO Rob Richie for a webinar where they’ll discuss Yang’s support for RCV, his new book, and the conversations about RCV that he has had with voters across the country. You can sign up to watch here.
With the continued work of leaders like Andrew Yang and dedicated volunteers around the country, we can make 2022 yet another watershed year for ranked choice voting. If you’d like to help out, please consider a donation to FairVote Action, or check out FairVote’s list of ways you can get involved.