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OPINION: Ranked Choice Voting Not "Most Superior" for Independents

by Ciaran Dougherty, published

I am concerned with the July 24, 2018 op-ed titled, Virginia Republican: “Ranked Choice Voting Most Superior Voting Method in US.”  While the statements are true, what is missing speaks volumes and illustrates why IRV/RCV may not be in the best interests of independent voters.

The op-ed starts with a quote asserting “Ranked Choice Voting, or Instant Run-Off Voting, is by far the most superior method of electing representatives available in the United States.” That is currently true. What it does not say, however, is that, depending on how you count them, there are only two, maybe three methods currently available in the U.S.

In other words, IRV/RCV is not the worst available. That isn’t very strong praise.

Further, with a decent amount of luck, that won’t even be true by the end of the year. There are initiatives on the ballot in Fargo, North Dakota and in Lane County Oregon this November to adopt Approval Voting and STAR Voting, respectively. There is even an active movement to get Score Voting (also called Range Voting) adopted in some cities in Washington state.

Any one of those methods is almost guaranteed to be better for independent voters, having a “Nursery Effect” for independents and minor parties.

ALSO READ: 4 New Voting Methods That Upend Partisan Politics

Mr. Tucker’s interest is not even necessarily the furtherance of independent voters. His evaluation — and his bias — are clear in the very next paragraph.

His definition of “better” seems to be “better for his own party;” in the original op-ed on “The Bull Elephant” blog, Mr. Tucker expressed hope that independents would “join and participate in Republican Party politics” (emphasis added), implying that his aim is to strengthen his own party, to the exclusion of others.

He offers a “more meaningful seat at the Republican Table,” perhaps unaware that many independents and participants in other political parties do not want a seat at the Republican Table, nor at the Democratic Table.

Independents and minor parties do not want “a taller seat” at the kid’s table, we want our fair share of seats at The Table.

We aren’t going to get those seats at the table under this “most superior voting method.” Look at Australia’s House of Representatives, where they have used IRV/RCV for nearly a century. A minor party has never won more than one seat for two elections in a row since 1943.

I am not content to be an auxiliary wing of one of the major parties. Are you?

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