Proportional Representation and Ranked Choice Voting

joe shikspack featured an Intercept article tonight that covered efforts by the Minnesota legislature, with help from ALEC, to ban Ranked Choice Voting, which would give third parties a leg up.

A snippet:

Republican state Sen. Mark Koran defended the legislation in an interview with local news outlet MinnPost. “Every vote should count, and every vote should be as simple as ‘I picked my top candidate,'” said Koran, who is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill. “I think it changes the dynamics of, do you win by a second or third chance? It just doesn’t seem natural, and we have an established elections process that has worked well for more than 100 years.”

It's worked a whole lot better for the Oligarchs than the voters, which is why we need change and why TPTB are threatened by Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and Proportional Representation (PR).

What the bill does:

The Minnesota bill prohibits a list of “political subdivisions” — such as cities, counties, townships, and even school districts — from adopting ranked-choice voting. A bipartisan group of legislators introduced it, but the two Democrats who had initially sponsored it pulled their support a few days later.

The legislative measure is what is known as a preemption bill, a tool conservative state lawmakers have used to block municipalities from setting their own policies. Many of these bills are promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has teamed up with corporations to author legislation that was used, for example, to ban municipal broadband and city living wage laws. The mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, Andrew Gillum, has made overturning preemption laws a cornerstone of his bid to be Florida’s next governor.

There was a more extensive analysis at In These Times:

The Two-Party System Is Facing Its Biggest Challenge In 70 Years:
From Maine to Missouri, states are bucking the establishment to push radical electoral reforms.

Why this approach matters:

One path forward is to engage each issue and press for change within the existing dysfunctional system. But if there is a game-changing and achievable solution that solves some of the most profound problems at once—ending the stranglehold of the two major parties, multiplying the representation of minority voters, decreasing polarization and boosting voter engagement—doesn’t it deserve serious attention from progressives?

The author covers some historical success stories with PR and explains some of the problems:

The case for PR holds that the maddening things about American democracy are built into our legislative maps and our voting procedures; dysfunction and disenchantment are features of our electoral system, not bugs.

And the case for Ranked Choice Voting:

RCV breaks the grip of the two-party system in another way, by solving the problem of spoiler candidates and boosting voter engagement. In RCV, a voter’s second-choice candidate receives her vote if her first choice is eliminated. The same is true for her third choice if the second choice is eliminated.

Minnesota is not an isolated case:

The Santa Clara bill would mark the first time a city has adopted multi-member districting and RCV since the 1950s. Only Cambridge, Mass., currently elects its city council using RCV in multi-member districts.

The elections in Maine and Santa Clara are bellwethers that proportional representation is gaining momentum. A nascent effort in Missouri captures the kind of passion and faith it can inspire.

Winston Apple is a man on a mission:

Apple is a member of Our Revolution and a self-described “political revolutionary.” He’s also a candidate for Congress in Missouri’s 6th District.

And he has a website::

For his mission to change Missouri’s electoral system, he’s created a website, Government by the people.org, with two short videos that explain the basics of proportional representation, in addition to essays that describe it in painstaking detail. And he takes his cause on the road.

Keep your eye on Maine:

The referendum in Maine would establish ranked-choice voting for all state and federal elections, which is a more modest and less disruptive reform than combining it with multi-member districts. Think of RCV as the gateway to full PR.

This is an idea that can really help reform elections:

It’s curious bordering on bizarre that proportional representation doesn’t attract more interest and resources from progressives. It cuts the Gordian knot of entrenched problems in U.S. politics, achieving many of the movement’s most cherished goals, notably by increasing representation among minority populations and by making votes for third-party candidates more relevant. In an era that’s been defined by playing defense, it offers a realistic plan for democratic revitalization that flips the script on the GOP’s anti-democratic impulses.

Conclusion:

And I think proportional representation, honestly, is the biggest issue that we can deal with right now. In the states where we can get it passed, those states are going to have genuinely democratic elections. And be the envy of the rest of the country.”

Check out the rest of the story at In These Times

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Comments

Pricknick's picture

It just doesn’t seem natural

I'm sure somebody is proud of Sen. Mark Koran. Those who can't change regardless comes to mind.
And what history class did he attend where nothing changes?

It just doesn’t seem natural, and we have an established elections process that has worked well for more than 100 years.

The man is a dunce.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

Meteor Man's picture

@Pricknick
I'm guessing that ALEC provides canned responses to questions about legislation they initiate.

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Cali Kush: a bowl a day keeps the doctor away.

@Meteor Man

They torture folks, don't they?

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

RCV breaks the grip of the two-party system in another way, by solving the problem of spoiler candidates and boosting voter engagement.

If Minneapolis had use a traditional voting system, Ginger Jentzen (Socialist Alternative) would now be sitting on the City Council.

Socialist Alternative entered a candidate in the November 7, 2017 elections for Minneapolis city council, ward 3. That candidate, Ginger Jentzen, placed first among the first choice ballots. Minneapolis uses ranked-choice voting. Jentzen did not win a majority when the first place votes were counted, so the city then counted the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place ballots. When those votes were counted, Jentzen had lost to a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, but even in the final tally she had over 40% of the vote.

She got 40% of the vote in a four way race and still lost. How does that help?

The Intercept article mentions "a well-funded socialist was a viable candidate", implying that RCV had something to do with that viability (it didn't), but conveniently neglects to point out that she would have been a winning candidate had the city not used RCV in the first place.

I don't have strong feelings one way or the other on this, but what may seem theoretically to help Progressives has in reality already been shown in at least one case to have hurt the cause.

Just saying...

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"Friends don't let friends Russiagate." - Caitlin Johnstone

@Not Henry Kissinger
she have received if there had NOT been RCV? In a conventional first-across-the-line election, she might have received only 5 - 10%, as many voters would have been afraid of "wasting their vote" on a "3rd-party candidate" -- an act that the conventional wisdom would label as "voting for < insert name of preferred duopoly party's candidate >'s opponent".

In addition to making immediate victory possible for non-duopoly candidates, RCV publicly demonstrates the irrefutable legitimacy of those candidates and their parties by immunizing the voters from the "wasted vote" meme. Anyone who can garner 40% of first-choice votes in an RCV election is not a marginal candidate;

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Sigh

Meteor Man's picture

@UntimelyRippd
You highlight an important benefit of eliminating the "don't waste your vote" dynamic. I heard that ad nauseum when I tried to convince people to vote for Jill Stein. RCV and PR both give voters a chance to vote their conscience.

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Cali Kush: a bowl a day keeps the doctor away.

Meteor Man's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger
Thanks NHK. Remarkable that a Socialist can get 40% in an American election. Results from PR and RCV may not be perfect in every case, but the overall results look favorable.

Bottom line for me is I'm in favor of anything ALEC opposes.

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Cali Kush: a bowl a day keeps the doctor away.

@Not Henry Kissinger

if they actually want the will of the people to be enacted? I was under the impression that ranked voting was supposed to work that way... why go to everyone's last choices???

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1 user has voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

GreyWolf's picture

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but the terrorists they work with are 'moderate', the Party once of the Left is pragmatically (self-)centric, even if only the latter half of that last is generally mentioned when in 'public' mode and 'allowing' people to actually vote freely among increased options for candidates best suiting them, have their votes actually count and their over-all preferred choice elected is not feasible in a democracy. Kinda like, no money to save American health and lives; it's all got to go to kill citizens in other (resource-rich/geopolitically useful/dangerously democratic and independent) countries.

Have I got that straight now? It gets all mixed together in the spin cycle...

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1 user has voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.