If adopted for all voters, ranked-choice voting would simulate a series of runoff elections. If there is no majority winner after tallying first choices, the last-place candidate loses, and that candidate’s ballots are added to the totals of the next-ranked candidate. This continues until a candidate wins with a majority of votes among active candidates. As a result, voters can vote sincerely and stop worrying about the advice of pollsters and pundits.
Along with Arkansas and Louisiana, South Carolina, in fact, already sends ranked-choice ballots to its overseas voters in federal primaries that could have a runoff. In runoffs, those ballots count for the candidate ranked highest on the ballot. Election officials report that the system works well.
Why deny military voters overseas these same rights to have a “backup” choice in presidential contests? In 2016, let’s give early voters in presidential primaries the right to cast a ranked-choice ballot. Doing so would strengthen voting rights — and provide a model for a means to increase the power of all voters.
Rob Richie is executive director of FairVote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and advocacy organization. Paul Gronke is a professor of political science at Reed College and director of the Early Voting Information Center.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.