Excerpt from The Hill 3/6/2019
The Democratic party now prides itself on championing democracy reform (see article below). Settling for potentially tens of thousands of wasted votes in the first-in-the-nation primary would justifiably warrant accusations of hypocrisy.
Luckily, as with many flaws in our democracy, the solution is both simple and easily implementable: ranked choice voting (RCV).
RCV in the presidential primary would allow voters to rank candidates in preferential order. If one or more candidates fail to reach the delegate threshold, their votes would be reassigned—starting with the lowest vote-getting candidate—according to voters’ subsequent preferences. This process would continue until each remaining candidate has surpassed the delegate threshold. With that, there would be virtually no wasted votes.
Ranked choice voting in the presidential primary is an idea whose time has come. In Iowa, the state Democratic party has included the use of ranked choice voting for up to five candidates in its proposed enhancement of the caucus system. A similar legislative effort is underway in Maine. Just last week, Maine Senate President Troy Jackson introduced LD 1083 to give voters the ability to rank their choices in both the presidential primary and the general election in 2020.
And in New Hampshire, a presidential primary RCV bill may soon be introduced in the State Senate. Earlier this year, NH State Representative Ellen Read introduced a separate RCV bill that generated noticeable public support in the House, but did not garner enough votes to pass.
Ultimately, there is still time to adopt ranked choice voting for the 2020 presidential primaries. But the clock is ticking. The Democratic Party should therefore signal to state lawmakers and party leaders that RCV would be welcome. Likewise, presidential candidates could bring much-needed attention to the idea by publicly supporting it.
Reforming the presidential primary will not be easy. But Americans should not settle for a broken primary process. Our democratic values are too essential to compromise.