LETTER: Ranked-choice voting is here to stay

Originally published in the Sun Current, July 24, 2022. To the editor: Bloomington’s first election using ranked-choice voting was a huge success, which is why we’re more than a bit confused about why some residents are asking for another vote on it. Polling by Edison...

Summer Democracy Internships at FairVote Minnesota

About FairVote Minnesota: FairVote Minnesota is leading the Ranked Choice Voting nonprofit in Minnesota. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a simple but powerful reform that allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference. It gives voters more choice and power,...

LETTER: Multitude of candidates begs for ranked choice voting

If there were ever an election poster child for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), the special election to replace First Congressional District Representative Jim Hagedorn is it. With 10 Republicans competing against each other on the primary ballot — and similarly eight...

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LETTER: Ranked-choice voting is here to stay

Originally published in the Sun Current, July 24, 2022.

To the editor:

Bloomington’s first election using ranked-choice voting was a huge success, which is why we’re more than a bit confused about why some residents are asking for another vote on it.
Polling by Edison Research showed that 77% of voters found RCV simple to use, and 61% said they like and want to continue using RCV.

Because RCV eliminates the need for the low-turnout summer primary, the city saved more than $80,000, according to the city clerk’s office, and voters had more time to learn about all the candidates, only had to go to the polls once and could fully express their candidate preferences.

Among the candidates, there was a range of demographic and political diversity and nuance not seen in recent municipal elections. It was refreshing to hear a variety of perspectives rather than just the two polar opposites. We saw little negative campaigning as candidates asked for second-choice votes from voters. In fact, the polling showed that more than 90% of voters believed the candidates didn’t spend most of their time criticizing each other.

The same minority group of opponents who tried to stop RCV from getting on the ballot are trying to take it away from the majority of voters who want it for all the benefits we saw in just the first election. RCV brings a more inclusive, civil and less polarizing democracy to Bloomington, and that’s exactly what we need more of in our democracy everywhere.

It’s clear not everyone agrees with this vision of democracy, but the majority of Bloomington voters do, and RCV is here to stay.

Laura Calbone and Marcia Wattson
Bloomington

Calbone and Wattson were organizers for Ranked Choice Voting Bloomington.

Summer Democracy Internships at FairVote Minnesota

About FairVote Minnesota:

FairVote Minnesota is leading the Ranked Choice Voting nonprofit in Minnesota. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a simple but powerful reform that allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference. It gives voters more choice and power, increases political competition, reduces polarization, and creates a more inclusive, representative and responsive democracy. It’s the foundation for making progress on every other issue we care about. Join the movement to strengthen and protect our democracy! 

Ranked Choice Voting Field Intern: 

This summer, we are creating an RCV field internship team. The Field Interns will work with FairVote Minnesota’s Organizing Team and other staff in our voter outreach and RCV candidate programs. This position will involve both remote work and in person organizing events, such as door knocks, tabling and community events. We welcome interns from a variety of college majors or backgrounds to apply. 

Intern tasks may include the following: 

  • Voter outreach, including phone banking, door knocking/canvassing, and tabling at community events;
  • Helping to educate voters across the state about RCV;
  • Data entry and tracking organizing progress;
  • Preparing and assisting with communications in traditional and digital media. 

Key competencies of a successful intern include: Flexibility in a rapidly changing campaign environment; strong interpersonal, verbal and written communications skills; a team-oriented attitude; and a passion for connecting with folks and educating them on RCV. Availability during evenings and weekends, and fluency in languages other than English spoken in the Twin Cities Metro is a plus. 

Applicants should generally be available to work 10 hours or more per week. Work can be remote, in the field at events, or in the office at 550 Vandalia St., St. Paul. If you have transportation and would like to work events, we will reimburse you for travel expenses. Internship positions are unpaid, but available for credit at your institution of study. 

FairVote Minnesota provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, amnesty, or status as a covered veteran in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws.

Candidates who identify as members of historically underrepresented groups are highly encouraged to apply. A diverse workforce and open culture are at the heart of our organization and vital to our success.

We offer part and full-time summer internships, with a limited number of paid positions. 

TO APPLY: 

Please email a cover letter and resume to Karl.Landskroener@FairVoteMN.org.

Please include information about:

  • The number of hours you are available each week.
  • When you are available to start your internship.  
  • Any plans you have  to pursue academic credit for the internship.

These internships teach critical skills such as organizing, advocacy, public speaking, social media, volunteer recruitment, team leadership, program development, and voter engagement. Our interns have gone on to become campaign managers, policy advocates, law students, and political communications experts. For those considering a career in issue advocacy or politics, an internship with FairVote Minnesota will put you ahead of the curve. We are seeking self-motivated team players who are interested in electoral reform and encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds to apply.

LETTER: Multitude of candidates begs for ranked choice voting

If there were ever an election poster child for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), the special election to replace First Congressional District Representative Jim Hagedorn is it. With 10 Republicans competing against each other on the primary ballot — and similarly eight Democrats — the candidates who win the primary are likely to do so with a mere fraction of voter support.

This split-vote result will be compounded by the timing of this special primary election in late May — when most voters are not tuned in. There is typically a much lower turnout for primaries, meaning the election result will be determined largely by each party’s activist base.

Ranked Choice Voting would assure that the winner has broader support within their respective party. In short, RCV allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate earns majority support outright — which is unlikely in a field of 8-10 candidates — then the candidate with the least support is eliminated, and those ballots transfer to those voters’ second choices. This instant runoff continues until one candidate reaches a majority and wins.

Ranked Choice Voting would result in candidates who have wider support within their own party. Of course, RCV should not only be used in the primary, but also in the General Election where it would eliminate the spoiler problem where the presence of multiple parties can often result in the winning candidate securing well less than majority support. Going forward, RCV is an election reform that merits serious consideration.

Tim Penny, of Owatonna, is a former 1st District representative, and current head of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

For Immediate Release: Rally for Democracy at the Minnesota State Capitol with Gov. Walz and Congressional and State Legislative Reform Champions

Contact: Erin Zamoff, FairVote Minnesota Director of Communications and Public Affairs, 952-334-8313 

Rally for Democracy at the Minnesota State Capitol with Gov. Walz and Congressional and State Legislative Reform Champions

St. Paul (May 2, 2022) — It is becoming clearer every day that we must take action to strengthen our fragile democracy. FairVote Minnesota (“FVMN”), the leading advocate for Ranked Choice Voting in the state, today announced a Rally for Democracy at the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday, May 4 at 2pm CT with fellow democracy reform organizations, including Clean Elections MN, More Equitable Democracy, Common Cause MN, American Promise, RepresentUs MN, Move To Amend, and Collective of Organizers for Reformed Elections (CORE). 

We are joining together with voters and state leaders to push back against efforts to take our democracy backwards and demand action to strengthen it – by protecting and expanding voting rights and passing proven and powerful reforms like Ranked Choice Voting, fair redistricting, campaign finance, and other measures that will help us live up to the promises of our Constitution. Governor Tim Walz will provide opening remarks. Congressman Dean Phillips will speak to reforms on the federal level. Stephen Vitvitsky of Stand with Ukraine MN will underscore the dangers of authoritarianism and the importance of the worldwide fight for democracy. 

Pro-democracy legislative leaders and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar will speak to the urgency of these reforms. All participants will have an opportunity to sign a joint Petition to Strengthen and Protect our Democracy.

Authoritarian, anti-democratic forces that attacked our nation’s Capitol on January 6th are continuing to threaten our democracy by spreading misinformation, questioning election outcomes and limiting voting rights, particularly for voters of color. Yet no reforms have passed to strengthen our democracy and mitigate this extremism. Our democracy is at a crossroads – the time to protect and strengthen our democracy is now. 

“There are proven, viable and powerful reforms, like Ranked Choice Voting, campaign finance reform, and fair redistricting that will help fortify our system against extremism and give power to the voters – where it belongs,” said FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey. 

“Urgent action is needed to protect our democracy,” said Rep. Phillips. “Attacks on our nation’s Capitol, voter suppression, and dangerous lies about the last election threaten the democratic values we all share. We must make the health of our democracy a top priority and pass reforms on the state and federal level that strengthen our system and return power to the people.” 

“Not only must we protect the most fundamental of rights, the right to vote,” declared State Sen. Melisa Franzen, “we must do everything we can to open up the political process to those historically excluded so that we have the fully representative, multiracial democracy that lives up to the promises of our Constitution.”

Democracy reform must be the number one priority of elected officials at all levels of government. 

Media are welcome and should contact erin.zamoff@fairvotemn.org/952-334-8313 with questions or for background.  

###

New Survey Shows Overwhelming Favorability for Ranked Choice Voting in Federal Elections

By Shawn Griffiths, Published by Independent Voter News April 20, 2022 https://ivn.us/posts/new-survey-shows-overwhelming-favorability-for-ranked-choice-voting-in-federal-elections

Only hours after the riot of Jan. 6, 2021, with the calls to “stop the steal” still reverberating under the Capitol Rotunda, 139 Republican members of the House of Representatives voted to oppose the valid electoral votes sent from Arizona and Pennsylvania, in effect endorsing the rallying cry of the insurrection.

Seventy-two Republicans voted the other way, supporting the counting of the electoral votes. What are the important characteristics that distinguish those who objected from those who did not? Some are predictable. Members may have felt more pressure to object if they came from districts and states that voted more heavily for Donald Trump. Members with fewer years in Congress objected at a higher rate, perhaps with a greater need than more veteran colleagues to make a name for themselves.

A new analysis finds another unexpected characteristic many objectors have in common, one that points to a structural danger in our election system. Objectors were more likely to have entered Congress without majority support in their initial primary. This insight arises from an Election Reformers Network database tracking members’ paths to Congress, and in particular how they fared in the primary election the year they entered Congress, before the power of incumbency kicked in.

Primaries for congressional elections have grown much more intense in recent decades. With party control over candidate nominations diminishing, races for open seats often feature a half-dozen or more candidates, and primary challenges to incumbents have become commonplace. This context increases the likelihood of “plurality winners” — candidates who win with less than the majority of votes cast — and “low plurality winners,” defined in this analysis as candidates winning with less than 40 percent vote share.

As the table below illustrates, voting to object was much more common among low plurality winners than among majority winners. More than 75 percent of the 45 members who first reached Congress via a primary win of 40 percent or less voted to object to the electoral votes of Pennsylvania and Arizona. The corresponding figure for “majority-backed” members is just over 50 percent.

The same pattern appears in the voting records of House members overall, not just on Jan. 6. A political science metric called the Nominate Score allows for comparison of members’ ideological intensity based on how they vote. Low plurality members score about a third more ideologically intense on this metric than majority-backed members, controlling for the partisan position of members’ districts.

This pattern becomes more worrisome when we take into consideration the new congressional districts emerging from the ongoing redistricting process across the states. This cycle of map-drawing has resulted in a big decrease in the number of districts competitive between Republicans and Democrats. When all the maps are finalized, membership will essentially be decided by who wins the primary in as much as 94 percent of House districts. Making matters worse, 80 percent of voters don’t participate in primary elections.

The solution to this problem is ranked-choice voting. A candidate with a strong following among one faction of the electorate but little support among other voters is much less likely to win under RCV than under conventional rules. In a crowded primary, a candidate with a plurality of first-choice votes will also need second- and third-choice votes, and (in nearly all cases) will need to reach support by the majority to win.

States can choose to implement ranked-choice voting in conventional party primaries or take a more comprehensive step and follow Alaska’s model for elections. The “top four” model recently approved by Alaskan voters opens up the primaries and allows the participation of political independents, a growing faction of U.S. voters tired of the two-party system. The most popular four candidates (regardless of party) move on to the general, where voters can rank by preference, incentivizing candidates to run positive campaigns and angle for second- or third-place votes from supporters of their opponents.

Both parties should see it as in their best interests to stem the centrifugal force making Congress a home of extremists.The constant threat of more radical primary challengers from the parties’ wings is creating deep internal divisions and stalinesque purity standards. A highly polarized Congress can’t reflect the views of most Americans, and can’t manage the basic legislative functions the country depends upon.

Though the sort of extremism that led Republican House members to oppose legitimate electoral results has many sources, it’s clear that our antiquated primary systems greatly worsen the problem. It’s time we put in place a voting system that will make it difficult for broadly unpopular hyper-partisans to find a path to our Congress.

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