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From Citizens United to Ranked-Choice Voting: Democracy on the Ballot 2016


From Citizens United to Ranked-Choice Voting: Democracy on the Ballot 2016

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

On November 8, voters in a number of states will weigh in on ballot initiatives meant to bolster democracy, whether by transforming campaign finance laws, rejecting Citizens United, or expanding voter representation.


Maine's ranked-choice voting measure is excellent.

Let's hope it does not fail for those oh-so typical USAn reasons:

  1. "B-B-But it sounds too complicated!"

  2. It is change - I don't like change-waaaahh!

  3. Only "foreign countries" do this - so it HAS to be inferior! Everything we do here in the USA is the best!


The ranked-choice measure in Maine is the best news I've had since I became politically conscious. I'm 84, and I've been in that state of mind for a while.

I'm an agnostic, so I won't be saying prayers about it, but I would if I wasn't an agnostic!


Initiative 735 is in Washington, not Wisconsin.


Senator Bernie Sanders proved political sea change is not only possible but, critical for survival of representative government and restoring the people's voice in policy. Sanders put a spotlight on the power of millions of small donations from the pockets of ordinary citizens, to level the playing field against the oligarchs. Sure, the corrupt DNC and Clinton apparatus stole our election but, not until the evidence was clear beyond a reasonable doubt. A political revolution has begun. Kudos to South Dakota and Maine for bringing real democracy enhancing measures to the ballot.


Turbocharge ballot initiatives:



These ballot initiatives are encouraging in these days of very discouraging news. Thanks for reporting them, CD.


@Yunzer @johnm
Rank Choice Voting is way better than Plurality Voting. Things can go stupid in so many ways in Plurality Voting, plus it strongly tends to resolve into a duopoly. i hope Maine passes the RCV ballot measure this year.

But RCV can go stupid too. There's a couple short videos in the link i provided that explain clearly some of these ways. i'll give a brief written example, in a three-way race:

  • When the "least popular" candidate who gets eliminated on the first round in RCV, is actually the strong second-choice of a large majority of voters, but does not get the chance at any of those votes because they are eliminated in the first round. This is generally when there are a "right" and a "left" candidate, and another in "the center" who would by far be the preferred compromise candidate, but instead one of the more "extreme" candidates ends up winning.

  • Supposedly with RCV, "You can vote for your actual favorite candidate, knowing those votes won't be spoilers that throw the election to the worst candidate." (The "spoiler" argument holds true in Plurality Voting systems, which leads to "lesser evilism" and a strong tendency to duopoly.) But RCV can involve a "spoiler" effect. When an "alternative" candidate on the (for example) "left," who would normally in a plurality-induced duopoly be relegated to a "fringe" third-party candidacy, slightly surpasses the "center" candidate's vote total in the "safe" RCV election -- but not by enough votes to also pass the "right" candidate -- then these votes do serve to elect the "greater evil." Your vote doesn't get a chance to go to your second choice because your candidate was not the first eliminated, and thus helps elect your worst choice.

Score Voting, and its simplest form, Approval Voting, have all the benefits that RCV does over Plurality Voting, but with far less chance of "gone stupid" outcomes.

Just like RCV, with Approval or Score Voting, you vote for every candidate on the ballot, not just one. But instead of ranking them in order, you give each one a score.

In Approval Voting the scale is from one to zero, approve or disapprove of each candidate. In Score Voting the range is larger, like a scale of three to zero, or nine to zero. This system operates more simply than RCV does, because Instead of any "instant runoff," the candidate with the highest total score wins on the first ballot count. And the problems outlined above, where RCV can have similar problems as Plurality Voting, do not occur with Score Voting or Approval Voting.

i hope a state will adopt Approval Voting or Score Voting soon, so everyone can see how easy it is and how well it works.


While it is not a statewide measure, our county (Benton) in Oregon has ranked choice voting on our ballot, which has a great deal of support.


That makes it sound like there is a range of scores between one and zero, rather than being a binary vote (either a one or zero, or checked or unchecked box) on each candidate. I would have a slight preference for score voting, but only if the range of scores was kept small.