Every four years another presidential election rolls around, and it seems we always have to choose between two candidates we don’t like. Is there a way out of this mess? One approach is to use ranked-choice voting in our primary elections.
Our current voting system has a tendency to elect extremists. For example, suppose there are eight moderate candidates and one extreme candidate. If 20 percent of the voters support the extreme candidate, the remaining 80 percent of the votes are divided among the eight moderate candidates, giving each about 10 percent. So, the extreme candidate wins, even though most of the voters may strongly dislike him or her. With ranked-choice voting, this problem is less likely to occur, because voters can specify their second choice, third choice, etc.
Many people are not aware that there are several types of ranked-choice voting. The best known is “instant runoff.” But there is a better system called Borda count. In Borda count voting, if there are nine candidates, your first choice gets nine votes, your second choice gets eight votes, your third choice gets seven votes, etc. This is simpler to understand than instant runoff and more reliable.
Everybody agrees that we need fair and dependable elections. Switching to ranked-choice voting could be a big step in that direction.
Brian Schmidt, Carmel