Taking Away the “Spoiler Factor”
“Ranked Choice” voting, which I strongly support (“Ranked Choice Voice: Cure for What Ails Us?”), picked up a big endorsement today: from NYT columnist Thomas Friedman.
Here’s Friedman’s case for what he calls “alternative voting” (also referred to as “instant run-off voting”):
One reason independent, third-party, centrist candidates can’t get elected is because if, in a three-person race, a Democrat votes for an independent, and the independent loses, the Democrat fears his vote will have actually helped the Republican win, or vice versa. Alternative voting allows you to rank the independent candidate your No. 1 choice, and the Democrat or Republican No. 2. Therefore, if the independent does not win, your vote is immediately transferred to your second choice.
–Thomas Friedman, “A Tea Party Without Nuts“; The New York Times (3/24/10)
In other words, ranked choice voting takes away the “spoiler factor” that has always dogged third-party candidates.
As such, it has tremendous potential to open up our sclerotic, dysfunctional two-party political system.
Why is that important?
Friedman again, quoting Stanford University’s Larry Diamond: ‘If you don’t get governance right, it is very hard to get anything else right that government needs to deal with.’
Lots of things have changed in the several (?) centuries since the paper ballot was introduced.
Maybe it’s time that we use modern technology to start to fix our broken political system.