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.
James Jones, communications director for DC Vote, tapes a "DC Constituents Service Day" sign on the wall as he stands with other DC residents outside of Rep. Andy Harris's office on Capitol Hill to protest Harris' actions against D.C.'s marijuana laws on Thursday, July 24, 2014. DC Vote encouraged DC residents to bring their complaints about city services to the Maryland congressman.