Ranked-choice voting has many benefits

Published 7:07 am Saturday, September 7, 2019

Many thanks to The Advocate-Messenger for its Sept. 4 editorial in praise of ranked-choice voting (RCV). The editorial describes how this method allows voters to rank their preferences in an election (first preference, second preference, third preference, etc.) instead of being forced to choose only “one of the above.”

In addition to the positive benefits described in the editorial (producing winners with broad appeal who will always have gained a majority — not just plurality — of votes, strengthening voter voice in the process), research has shown other benefits of RCV in the communities where it has been implemented:

  1. RCV discourages negative campaigning. Candidates are incentivized to positively appeal to as many voters as possible knowing that even if they are not someone’s first preference, they may be able to earn that voter’s second or third preference vote, which could boost the candidate’s chances if the voter’s first preference does not win.
  2. RCV allows more choices for voters. How often have we lamented the limited options of the two-party system in America? RCV can strengthen the viability of third-party candidates because voters will no longer be forced to choose between “throwing away” their vote on a third-party and strategically voting for the “lesser of two evils.” With RCV, you can rank vote for BOTH options.
  3. RCV can help alleviate partisan polarization and dysfunction. When used in both primary and general elections, RCV rewards candidates who work to appeal to the moderate middle instead of the polarized extremes.

I encourage all to learn more about RCV (fairvote.org/rcv) and then contact your representatives to indicate your support. Call or email our state representatives (Rep. Daniel Elliott: daniel.elliott@lrc.ky.gov; Sen. Rick Girdler: rick.girdler@lrc.ky.gov) and ask them to be a leader on this issue in the state legislature, introducing and promoting legislation to implement RCV in Kentucky and/or give counties and cities the option to do so. Contact our local city and county representatives and ask them to express their support for RCV to our state leaders.

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RCV is an easy, cost-effective and simple solution that can be implemented at the local and state level that would have widespread benefits to the political discussions, campaigns, and outcomes of our communities and nation.

Benjamin Knoll