Thursday, April 21, 2016

RI State Rep. Filippi Calls for Ranked-Choice Voting

Rhode Island State Rep. Blake Filippi has introduced legislation that would give voters an opportunity in the next election to amend the Rhode Island Constitution to replace the current plurality vote with Ranked-Choice Voting instant of runoff elections.

A plurality is winning with the greatest number of votes, even if the candidate does not win more than 50 percent of the vote. Filippi cited examples of Gov. Gina Raimondo, who was elected with 40.8% of the vote, and former Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who received 36.1%.

“The fact that we have a prior governor with 36 percent of the vote and our current governor has approximately 40 percent of the vote — I think it’s obvious there’s a problem,” said Filippi (I-Westerly). “Our elected officials can serve without the strong mandate needed to effectively govern and I think that people feel their will isn’t being represented when you have someone with just a mere plurality serving.”

Current runoff elections, on the other hand, require that a top vote-getter receive more than 50 percent of the vote. “If no candidate initially breaks this 50 percent threshold in a typical three-way race, the first and second place finishers will have a runoff election,” Filippi explained. “Ranked-Choice allow this second match-up to occur on the same day, thereby avoiding the expense and delay of another election.”
“This is accomplished by voters marking their first and second choices on the ballot,” he continued. “If a voter’s first choice candidate is not among the initial top two vote earners, their vote in the runoff will be cast for their second choice.”

Filippi said it was important that the runoff occur the same day as the election.
“If a runoff is held two weeks or a month later, turnout might be really low and you could have someone elected to office still without that strong majority if only a small proportion of people show up for the runoff. An instant runoff or Ranked-Choice solves that problem by allowing you to mark your first, second and third choice — depending on the number of candidates, and it’s all done in one night,” he said.

Rhode Island’s new voting machines are able to handle Ranked-Choice instant runoffs. “I spoke to the Secretary of State [Nellie Gorbea] and the new voting machines that we purchased can handle instant runoff voting,” Filippi said, also conceding that runoffs were not likely to occur in Rhode Island anytime soon.

“I don’t envision it happening until a Republican gets in with less than a majority,” he said. “I think if maybe in the next governor’s race there’s a progressive who runs on a third party ticket with the Democrat vote, if a Republican gets in with 40 percent, I think at that point it might have more legs, if you will.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

1 comment:

richardwinger said...

He introduced that bill in January 2016 and so far nothing has happened to it.