As voters in North Carolina head to the polls, they may feel frustrated with the current system of first-past-the-post voting. This system has significant flaws, including vote splitting, wasted votes, and the potential for spoiler candidates. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of ranked choice voting and how it can improve the quality of candidates North Carolina voters get to choose from.
How Ranked Choice Voting Works
Ranked choice voting (RCV) is a voting system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Instead of selecting just one candidate, voters can rank as many candidates as they want, from their first choice to their last. The candidate with the most first-choice votes is not necessarily the winner. Instead, the candidate with the most overall support, after factoring in voters' second and third choices, is declared the winner.
The Benefits of Ranked Choice Voting
One of the primary benefits of ranked choice voting is that it eliminates the problem of vote splitting. In a first-past-the-post system, if two similar candidates run for office, they may split the vote of their supporters, allowing a less popular candidate to win. With RCV, voters can rank both candidates, ensuring that their vote is not wasted and that their preferences are taken into account.
Ranked choice voting can also encourage candidates to run more positive campaigns. In a first-past-the-post system, candidates often resort to negative campaigning in order to differentiate themselves from their opponents. With RCV, candidates must appeal to a broader range of voters, including those who support other candidates. This can lead to a more civil and issues-based campaign, where candidates focus on their ideas and policy positions, rather than attacking their opponents.
Finally, RCV can improve the quality of candidates North Carolina voters get to choose from. In a first-past-the-post system, third-party and independent candidates often have little chance of winning, leading to a lack of diversity in the political process. With RCV, these candidates can run without the fear of being a spoiler and can potentially earn enough support to win. This can lead to a more diverse and representative political process, where a wider range of ideas and perspectives are represented.
Examples of Ranked Choice Voting in Action
Several cities in the United States have already implemented ranked choice voting, including Minneapolis, Minnesota; Oakland and San Francisco, California; and Portland, Maine. These cities have seen increased voter turnout, more diverse candidates running for office, and a decrease in negative campaigning.
In addition, the state of Maine became the first state to implement ranked choice voting for statewide elections in 2018. According to a report by FairVote, a nonprofit that advocates for electoral reform, "Maine's implementation of RCV in 2018 is widely regarded as a success, with high voter satisfaction, no reported technical problems, and no litigation."
Ranked choice voting is a voting system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. By eliminating the problem of vote splitting, encouraging positive campaigning, and improving the quality of candidates North Carolina voters get to choose from, RCV has the potential to improve the democratic process. As more cities and states adopt this reform, we can hope to see a more fair and representative political process in the United States.
- FairVote. (2021). Ranked Choice Voting. https://www.fairvote.org/rcv#what_is_ranked_choice_voting_rcv
- Minnesota Public Radio. (2013). Minneapolis voters say 'yes' to ranked choice voting. https://www.mpr