Saturday, June 16, 2018

Beginning of RCV in U.S.

Jack Santucci PhD 2017, Georgetown University, is a DC-based Political Scientist who Research covers Voting Systems in the United States.

This week Voters in Maine, the Pine Tree State, chose to continue using Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) in State-Wide Elections.

Jack Santucci explains that RCV is likely to be adopted in Polarized Political Environments, creating Majorities where there currently are none, and as a reaction to Unpopular Politicians who have won without Majorities of Votes. He reminds us that the current era of Polarization is similar to that of One Hundred years ago, the last time RCV was in fashion.

RCV fits perfectly where a Majority of People cannot agree on just One Candidate, but they all Dislike the Opposition. Where that happens, conditions are right for a Reform Coalition to take shape.

RCV first captured attention more than 100 years ago. For the North American Proportional Representation League, this was just a Fad. For the Ideologically Committed, however, it solved a real problem.

The surge of Public Interest followed the Election of 1912. In that Presidential Race, Theodore Roosevelt split his Party, making Woodrow Wilson the only Democrat to Win between 1896 and 1932. Wilson got 42% of Votes. Had RCV been in place, a Republican might have won.

The Divisions that produced 1912 had been simmering in State and Local Government. To solve Problems of Vote Splitting, Progressives began promoting RCV, in addition to a similar system then called Bucklin Voting. Most Early Experiments were in Cities. Some States also used these systems to conduct Party Primaries. After 1912, however, there was Widespread Fear that “Progressives” might run against each other, accidentally handing Office to the “Reactionary.”

Consider C.F. Taylor’s Pitch for RCV, dated 1913:

The preferential system permitted them to vote first for the man of their choice and then to mass the progressive field against the common enemy — the reactionary machine candidate — with the result that the progressive voters, who are in a vast majority, are represented by a progressive…

Conditions today are similar in some important respects. First, RCV has been spreading since its 2002 Adoption in San Francisco. Ten Cities now use it, Five more will Implement, and Technical issues Delay its use in another Six. Second, the 2016 Election reminded Americans of what can happen when more than Two Candidates run for a Single Office.

Above all, though, is that Special Combination of Polarization and Fragmentation. People are Running for Office in Record Numbers, particularly on the Democratic side. Meanwhile, Third-Party Candidates have filed to Run for Governor in Three of the Four States with developed RCV Outfits: Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Mexico. What Polarization adds is that sense of Common Enemy. Will Vote-Splitting cause the Election of a Candidate that most groups Dislike? That is what can galvanize a Reform Coalition. Or will Reform interest shift to Proportional Voting?

Proportional Voting Awards Seats to Groups or Parties in accordance with their Shares of Votes.

If History is any guide, that could be the next step.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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