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The two-party system is the problem; ranked-choice voting is the solution

p lauren besankoLauren Besanko, who ran as a Maine Green Independent Party candidate for state representative, recently wrote an article for the Bangor Daily News about Maine’s growing movement for ranked-choice voting. From the article, entitled “The Two-Party Duopoly is the Problem”:

Ranked choice voting allows people to vote for several candidates in order, from their favorite to their least favorite, by assigning candidates numerical values. Their favorite candidate would receive the “No. 1” vote, their second favorite the “No. 2” vote and so on. One of the points of election reform like this should be to eliminate the “spoiler” effect, so we don’t end up splitting the vote, for example, between center-left and farther-left candidates, resulting in electing a far-right tea party Republican.

Reform like this could very well be the start of a path toward the end of a political system dominated by the two parties.

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Fairvote reports on instant runoff voting elections in 6 cities

Rob Richie and Dorothy Scheeline of Fairvote have written some interesting analysis of last week’s elections that used instant runoff voting, aka ranked choice voting. Instant runoff voting was used in San Francisco, CA, St. Paul, MN, and Portland, ME; in all three cities, Greens both helped enact IRV and ran in last Tuesday’s elections. For the mayoral elections in Portland and San Francisco, Fairvote has graphs that show the breakdown of votes round by round until someone takes a majority (in Portland, Greens David Marshall and John Eder finished 4th and 12th of 15; in SF, Green Terry Baum finished 11th of 16). In a Huffington Post article, Richie and Scheeline focus on the story of IRV’s success in Portland:

Repeatedly, we are seeing RCV winners being the candidates who do a particularly effective job at reaching out to voters, often with direct contact involving community debates, local events, and door-knocking. One Portland candidate, David Marshall, said he knocked on 20,000 doors. He didn’t win, but it was ballots from his supporters that provided a particularly strong boost to the new mayor’s win total.

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With city’s first ranked choice election coming up, St. Paul’s Greens endorse 3 candidates, work for more

From the Twin Cities Daily Planet (read the full thing here, there is a lot more information in the article itself):

The Green Party of St. Paul began a new effort to recruit candidates for upcoming 2011 local elections June 16, as candidates and around 40 supporters gathered to launch the effort dubbed Green St. Paul.The campaign is an attempt to change the party’s sporadic track record in local elections by recruiting candidates to run for local office, said Green St. Paul co-chair Roger Meyer…

The Green Party has officially endorsed three candidates in local races. Johnny Howard and Jim Ivey are running for St. Paul City Council seats in Wards 1 and 2, respectively, while Devin Miller is running for the St. Paul School Board…

Meyer said the recruitment campaign was inspired by St. Paul’s adoption of ranked choice voting. The elections this November will see the first implementation of the ranked choice voting system that St. Paul voters approved in a referendum in 2009.

The system allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the first choice votes, they win outright. Otherwise, the candidate with the lowest number of first choice votes is eliminated and their votes are redistributed to the voter’s second choice. The process is repeated until one candidate crosses the threshold needed to win.