Letter: Making the Case for Ranked Choice Voting

You recently published a letter from David Hines that noted shortcomings in our current system of plurality voting and discussed alternative methods. Unfortunately, he misunderstood the Ranked Choice Voting method, assuming that it operated only as currently in use in Takoma Park. In Ranked Choice Voting (or Instant Runoff Voting), voters indicate their first, second, and third (or more) choices among the candidates. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate who finished in last place is eliminated from the running, and the ballots cast for that candidate are reviewed to see who those voters marked as their second choice, and those votes are added in. Ranked Choice Voting can be implemented by a local jurisdiction to allow the voters to rank all of the candidates, rather than just their first and second choices. The League of Women Voters of Maryland supports Ranked Choice Voting, as it ensures that the winner of the election has a strong level of support from a majority of voters. The winner might not have been the first choice of all of those voters, but the voters would be indicating that he or she was preferable to the other candidates. It functions the same way as if there were a runoff election and the top two finishers from the first round of balloting appeared on the runoff ballot, but it can be done instantly instead of making everyone return to the polls to mark another ballot. If the voters are allowed to rank all of the candidates (not just the top two), the end result will be much more representative of the voters’ views. — Ralph Watkins Ralph Watkins is vice president League of Women Voters of Maryland.

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