Ranked Choice Voting: The Goverment Really is Greener on the Other Side

Earthflower (Green Party of the United States)

Clinton or Trump? Held hostage by a party duopoly, the American electorate is bound to choose between the two ‘feasible’ remaining candidates for president, though many abhor the options. Widespread exasperation has manifested in historically high unfavorable ratings for the 2016 Republican and Democratic nominees. Campaign surrogates full-throatedly defame the opposition; friends implore friends to vote for the ‘lesser evil’; cable news pundits warn of impending apocalypse. So how did we end up with a system of voting against rather than for a candidate?

Four years ago, MinnPost writer Eric Black raised the same question with regard to the 2012 presidential race. Today, his revelations glisten with prescience, as mutual fear-mongering and unprecedented smear-campaigns saturate our political climate. In exploring the stubborn resilience of our “Republicratic” rule, Black underscores the influence of Duverger’s Law, which posits that first-past-the-post plurality voting encourages two-party domination. This method of voting requires a singular choice to be indicated on a ballot—effectively, the single candidate with the most votes wins. Unfortunately, this system discourages constituents’ exploration away from established Red and Blue nominees. When citizens split their votes between multiple candidates, they run the danger of cannibalizing any significant plurality that may guard against a victory for the ‘greater evil’.

Fortunately, a system exists as a remedy for these problems: Ranked Choice Voting. With this method, voters can rank several choices by preference, eliminating the possibility that their votes could be ‘wasted’. Green Party candidate Jill Stein has long championed this system as a way to give voters a more confidant voice at the ballot box (and third parties a bigger seat at the governmental table).

As America descends into the uncomfortable political chaos of the 2016 election, now is the best time to reconsider the methods with which we choose our leaders. Voters would be wise to follow Stein’s lead over the Republicrat fence into a Green, electorally fairer future.