Court Unblocks Ranked-Choice Voting in Santa Fe; Maine Still Obstructed

The two-party system continues playing Whac-a-Mole with instant runoff voting


Definitely none of the above |||

Of all the various electoral reforms and tweaks favored by people alienated by the near-monolithic two-party set-up in the United States, ranked-choice (or instant-runoff) voting, where voters rank their preferences and the votes for the last-place candidates keep getting redistributed until someone receives more than 50 percent, stands out for being 1) plausible enough to have been adopted in a dozen mostly progressive cities, and 2) threatening enough that the Democratic and Republican parties go bananas trying to block it.

The latest such obstructionism was wiped away Tuesday when the New Mexico Supreme Court batted down a legal challenge to the system by the city of Santa Fe, where voters overwhelmingly passed ranked-choice into law 10 freaking years ago. The first instant runoff voting there will take place in March.

So what's the latest in Maine, where voters passed ranked-choice statewide in November 2016, but then the state Supreme Court last May declared in an advisory opinion the system to be unconstitutional, after which legislators in October punted implementation until December 2021, with the poison pill that it would be repealed altogether if the state constitution isn't amended to accommodate the practice by then? Well, supporters have filed a People's Veto referendum, which under the Maine Constitution allows for citizens to overturn hated laws if they collect enough valid signatures. According to the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting last week, "volunteers across the state collected more than 33,000 of the required 61,123 signatures required" on the first day of petitioning in November. The deadline is Feb. 2.

Reason has explored ranked-choice often over the years. Just after the 2016 elections, Zach Weissmueller did a podcast interview with Richard Woodbury, chair of the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. And in 2014, Nick Gillespie conducted an interview with the chairman of the ranked-choice supporting FairVote, who oh yeah also used to play bass for Nirvana:

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  1. raspberry lemon sorbet 2020 #makesorbetsherbertagain

    1. Popsicle made of artisanal mayo

    2. You know what’s awesome though? Vanilla Gelato with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction. Sound weird but it’s great.

        1. You could even do it with olive oil gelato.

  2. Approval voting is better than ranked choice, IMHO. Ranked choice fails the “can you explain it to your grandmother in 12 words or less” test. Also, approval voting allows for protest votes because you can vote no on every candidate.

    1. Add a provision that a No majority means the office sits empty, and you might be onto something.

  3. Congratulations, Comrade Welch, for removing the mask altogether–

    1) plausible enough to have been adopted in a dozen mostly progressive cities,

    Your support for that destroy choice while providing a perfect illusion of it in noted and appreciated by the Party.

    #Resist!, as the proles bleat.

    1. How does ranked choice voting “destroy choice”?

      1. Because they take away one’s ability to choose the person they want.

        If an ‘IRV’ system gave you a top ten to choose–and you could toss all ten behind one candidate it would maintain your ability to choose, but the way it works you must pick candidates you don’t like or forfeit those extra nine votes.

        The entire IRV system is the tantrum of people who can’t accept that D and R tend to win even when there’s C, G, P, L and others on the ballot as well.

        They don’t grasp that the American system is designed to push towards the center–or they do grasp it, but the center is too far right for them.

        1. I don’t really see how that is any less choice than what we have now. If the person you really support lost the primary, you don’t get to vote for the person you want either.

          1. Non-partisan open primaries are a goal as well.

            1. Now those are awful.

    2. Ranked voting during the nominating conventions would have kept both Trump off the ballot. We would have a President Kasich or Rubio. Not the best, but still light years ahead of Trump. Sometimes everyone’s second choice is the majority’s first choice.

  4. I’m writing in Ron Paul, like every year.

  5. Yeah I think the ‘ranked choice’ idea is a step in the right direction, depending on how it is implemented. If voters are forced to rank all the candidates in order for the ballot to be valid, then that is a bad idea. If voters however are free to omit candidates from ranking (meaning that they are unacceptable always) then that would be an improvement compared to where we are at now.

  6. We can’t hsve more democracy in our democracy! That’s crazy!

  7. Krist Novoselic is cool as shit. Dude is clearly super smart and chill. Enjoyed that old interview.

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