“The needs of California voters — not the parties — must be heeded”

Dan Howle and Rob Richie oped in the SD Union-Tribune:

We, the Independent Voter Project and FairVote, have and continue to have our different perspectives and opinions about what is the “best” way to conduct our elections. But at a fundamental level, we agree that elections should serve voters, maximize choice and broaden our representatives’ accountability.

For that reason we oppose any attempt to restore California’s old system. Its low level of competition was appalling, both in primaries and in general elections. Even when third parties and independents were on the November ballot, the vote-for-one, plurality voting system sidelined them as “spoilers” or “irrelevant.”

The biggest complaints about the nonpartisan primary system are tied to only two candidates advancing from the primary. The practical effect of only advancing two candidates, especially when several candidates are on the ballot, is that some credible candidates may not advance to November. This can leave third parties, independents and even a major party from having a candidate on the general election ballot.

The Independent Voter Project supported the top-two format, specifically, to ensure that a candidate needs a majority vote to win in November. But we should not, and do not have to, go back to the old, party-centric, and uncompetitive system to expand voter choice, provide more opportunity for third parties and independents, and advance voter-centric reform even further.

Enter the application of ranked choice voting to a primary that advances the top four candidates instead of just two. It’s simple. Double the November choices by advancing four candidates out of the primary, allow write-in candidates, and enact ranked choice voting to give voters more voice, avoid vote-splitting and ensure majority rule.

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