Emily Bryant in The Sun Current:
To the editor:
Polarization is ubiquitous across the political landscape, and it’s tearing apart our nation, our states, our communities and even our families.
While this affliction is driven by many factors, there is a remedy. Ranked-choice voting offers a uniquely powerful way to break the cycle of divisiveness, and I am so pleased to see the movement for ranked-choice voting growing locally and nationally.
With our status quo “plurality-win” voting system, political leaders benefit when their followers don’t just prefer them, but also truly abhor the other side. Animosity is a reliable motivator and, come election time, a vote against the other candidate is as good as a vote for them. In recent years, we’ve seen too many politicians actively stoke that hatred, and the results are awful.
But with ranked-choice voting, stoking division does not work. In fact, it backfires. With ranked-choice voting, leaders need to compete for second-preference votes, which come into play if no candidate earns a majority (50% plus one) of first-preference support.
This dynamic incentivizes politicians to use their podium not to berate their opponents, but rather to try to earn their opponents’ supporters’ second-preference votes and focus on issues voters care about. That is exactly the unifying conversation we want our leaders to engage in.
Minnesotans are fortunate to be represented by many incredible, unifying, truth-telling leaders, who have risen despite incentives to succeed through division. But we need more, and we need to abandon those that self-servingly tear at our nation’s fabric.
To mend our country and our communities – and diminish the rifts within our families – we need ranked-choice voting.
Please join me in thanking Rep. Steve Elkins, the lead author of legislation to bring ranked-choice voting to statewide and federal elections in Minnesota, and in urging all of our legislators to make HF89 and SF218 – ranked-choice voting for Minnesota – a top priority this legislative session.