Two students were invited as guests of City Club to attend our October Forum on Ranked Choice Voting. Here are their perspectives on the forum.
Rank choice voting provides a system in which the candidate with the broadest support wins. With the more common first-past-the-post voting, the major candidates are most often a Democrat and a Republican. While occasionally a third party or independent candidate can shake the election up, most independent candidates in the race stand little chance. RCV could change this dynamic and promote more independent, most likely centrist, candidates. The main advantage to RVC is simple, less extreme candidates from political parties have a greater chance of success because they are more likely to get 2nd choice votes than an extreme candidate. A key consideration however is the primary system. With the closed primary system, there is no guarantee that primary voters, who typically are more partisan, will choose a candidate that is more moderate. This could mean that Most advocates of RCV agree, a more open form of primaries like nonpartisan blanket primaries work best as the voters nominating candidates aren’t hyper partisan as we see in many primaries. An interesting question remains however, what happens in a situation where there are multiple major candidates in the general election from the same political party. If you have an election with four major candidates, a mainstream Democrat and a moderate Democrat, along with a pairing of a Republican and a far-right Republican, will voters choose moderation over political lines? If voters stick to partisan lines and put their 2nd choice simply as the other candidate from their political party, how much will candidates be moderated?
The goal of rank choice voting is to provide a system where voters have more power to reject extremism and polarization than the current system allows for. But this doesn’t mean RVC ensures that voters choose moderation, it simply gives them a greater chance to. I think this is a valid argument as to why RVC should be adopted and I personally believe it can help our political system, but I think RVC should still be viewed as a tool, not as an end-all be-all solution.
-Van, Caldera High School