Will New England States Bolster Ranked Choice Voting in 2019?
MONTPELIER, VT. - New legislation is slated to be introduced in the Vermont legislature that would implement ranked choice voting for the state's elections. Vermont is one of several states that could soon follow in Maine's footsteps in adopting RCV statewide after a historic 2018 election.
VTDigger reports that Dover independent Rep. Laura Sibilia plans to spearhead RCV efforts in the Vermont State House, while Sen. Chris Pearson (D/P - Chittenden) will introduce legislation in the Senate.
“[RCV] just kind of tallies the will of the people much more accurately than the current system we have because it allows people to really make a statement about every candidate,” said Rep. Laura Sibilia.
Sibilia also points to RCV's effect on campaign strategy and how it creates a more competitive and less negative environment for candidates and voters -- something advocates often point to when making the case for the alternative voting method.
Vermont isn't the only state, though, that will take up ranked choice voting in 2019. The Massachusetts legislature is also likely to consider RCV legislation, as grassroots activists have heavily lobbied lawmakers to adopt the reform.
Voter Choice Massachusetts, which has existed since 2009, is one of the most expansive and active state-specific movements in the nation to educate and state politicians on RCV.
"We have 35 co-sponsors out of the 200-member legislature for the [RCV] bills, and beyond cosponsors we probably have a lot of supporters we don't know about," Voter Choice Massachusetts Executive Director Adam Friedman told me in a previous interview.
Listen to the full interview here.
One of the efforts to speak to legislators about the benefits of ranked choice voting is "200 Coffees," which Friedman says will be a sit-down conversation with each lawmaker and some of their constituents.
Friedman says he can't speak with certainty that ranked choice voting will pass the legislature in 2019, but he does believe it is inevitable given its growing popularity. RCV has even been endorsed by the Boston Globe.
The momentum of the RCV movement can be seen in New England states like Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and maybe even Connecticut. Success in these states could further bolster efforts in several other states trying to get RCV on the 2020 ballot.
People interested in nonpartisan reform will be watching to see if momentum slows down after a historic 2018 election year. However, reformers across the board are determined to keep this momentum going through 2019, into 2020.
Ranked choice voting, in particular, could have another big year. Stay tuned for more developments on these reform efforts.