After the 2016 presidential election, I felt a certain melancholy pervade my thoughts. How can the people I know and love, be so divided against each other? I suddenly lost confidence that everything is going to work out. Climate change, nuclear proliferation, job displacement and drug abuse are not issues we have the luxury to fix later. They need to be addressed immediately and with an unprecedented level of urgency.
So I went to work, untangling the knot of problems I see in our democracy. From corruption to inefficiencies, incentive systems to incarceration laws. Like undoing a sailors knot, I realized there was a single thread that needs to be worked out first. This thread is Fair Voting.
Undoing this one prerequisite knot will do more than improve our democracy, it will increase the rate of improvement in our democracy.
Fair Voting will Increase the Rate of Improvement in Our Democracy.
Like a good puzzle, fair voting isn’t one challenge, but a conglomeration of little ones. I’m appreciative of the people at fairvote.org, who did the hard work of enumerating these challenges and even creating toolkits to empower us to fight for them.
- Ranked Choice Voting – When voting, instead of choosing one candidate, rank the options
- Fair Representation – When allocating representatives, instead of winner-takes-all, give a proportion based on votes
- Redistricting – address gerrymandering by having a non-partisan group redistrict based on a criteria
- National Holiday for Voting – Allow workers to vote without consequence
Ranked Choice Voting
The most powerful way for us to effect change in our government is through voting. When I vote, I want it to count. I want it to matter. When I look at a three party ballot, I know that a vote for the third party is pointless. It may “make a statement” but in practice I may as well abstain.
This has huge ripple effects through our democracy. Since voters are incentivized to ignore third parties, fewer people will even apply for positions. This greatly limits our pool of candidates who run, and makes it nearly impossible to vote for a person who will champion your specific set of issues and values. It also gives great power to incumbent officers, and encourages them to pick more and more radical/polarized platforms to stand on, since voters have no viable moderate voice to choose from. Establishment politics are encouraged because only those who work their way through one of the in-power political parties have a chance to win.
Ranked Choice Voting addresses all of these issues by giving us a more nuanced vote. Voters are asked to rank the candidates they are interested in. This means I could vote for my candidate of choice, without throwing my vote away. By letting us rank the candidates, it gives us a tiny bit more control and a tiny bit more free speech.
For more information on Ranked Choice Voting, I highly suggest reading here: http://www.fairvote.org/rcv#rcvbenefits