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.