Category Archives: alternative voting systems

“Alaska election officials to recalculate signatures for ranked vote repeal measure after court order”

AP:

A state court judge on Friday disqualified numerous booklets used to gather signatures for an initiative that aims to repeal Alaska’s ranked choice voting system and gave elections officials a deadline to determine if the measure still had sufficient signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Christina Rankin in Anchorage comes in a lawsuit brought by three voters that seeks to disqualify the repeal measure from the ballot. 

…. Rankin set a Wednesday deadline for the division to remove the signatures and booklets she found should be disqualified and for the division [of elections] to determine if the measure still has sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot.

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Open Letter from Scholars in Support of Fusion Voting

Here’s an excerpt from the letter, released yesterday:

With partisan polarization at dysfunctional highs, public faith in the political system hitting dangerous lows, and two unpopular presidential candidates competing in a high-stakes presidential election, Americans are rightfully worried about the future of our democracy. The good news is that growing concern has also widened discussion of much-needed fundamental reforms to our existing electoral system.

As concerned scholars and advocates for democratic reform, we urge legislative bodies across the country to re-legalize fusion voting in all partisan elections. “Fusion” voting denotes the ability of more than one party to nominate (with their consent) a candidate in an election, on a separate ballot line, with votes cast for the candidate on that ballot line counted separately and then incorporated into their total. This election rule has deep roots in American political history. We believe that its revival today would reinvigorate our democracy by improving representation and accountability while strengthening voters’ rights….

Fusion makes it more likely that voters disaffected with the current parties will exercise their right to associate with others and form new parties because it avoids the problem of election spoiling. It would reengage disenchanted voters, and their diverse organizations, and allow more party diversity. Reviving the option of fusion offers a path out of hardening destructive partisan polarization while aligning closely with the constitutional principles of free association and expression, foundational to the American creed….

Tabatha Abu El-Haj, Lee Drutman, and Lisa Disch led the drafting of this letter, which around 110 scholars have signed. Other signatories include Guy Charles, Kathy Cramer, Larry Diamond, Aziz Huq, Alex Keyssar, Steve Levitsky, Jane Mansbridge, Bertrall Ross, Nick Stephanopoulos, and Larry Tribe. (Disclosure: I’ve also joined.)

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“Democrat Loses Primary to Alleged Republican Imposter”

Newsweek:

A former Republican voter appears to have defeated Democrat Mondaire Jones in the left-wing Working Families Party’s primary for New York’s 17th Congressional District.

As of 8:55 a.m. ET on Wednesday, ex-GOP backer Anthony Frascone led Jones 244 votes to 183, with 92 percent of votes counted. Frascone’s lead of 61 is larger than the number of votes yet to be counted, meaning he has defeated Jones. Between 2021 and 2023, Jones served as representative for New York’s 17th district but lost his seat to Republican Mike Lawler in November 2022….

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“The Ballot Measures Aim to Reduce Partisanship. Can They Fix American Politics?”

Michael Wines for the NYT:

Americans of both parties routinely express deep concern about the state of the country’s democracy. This fall, many voters may have a chance to do something about it, by voting on state ballot measures related to the nuts and bolts of elections and governance.

Eight states, including Ohio and seven others largely in the West, appear all but certain to field ballot measures that would either overhaul redistricting or rewrite election rules to discourage hyper-partisanship and give voters a greater voice in choosing candidates.

Redistricting ballot measures are not uncommon, but since the advent of citizen-backed ballot initiatives in the early 1900s no other year has had more than three election-system initiatives, according to the online elections database Ballotpedia….

Closed primaries, the argument goes, rob independent voters — a growing segment of the electorate, and in some states now the largest one — of a voice in choosing general election candidates. Candidates in open primaries have an incentive to court not only independents but also voters of the opposing party, which, in theory at least, should steer them closer to the political center.

And gerrymandered maps make elections so lopsided that parties with little chance of winning often don’t bother to field general-election candidates. (Nationally, about four in 10 state legislative races have only one candidate.) In those cases, the general election winner only has to win over primary voters, not the broader electorate that turns out in November.

Advocates of ranked-choice elections say they not only give voters a greater say in choosing the ultimate winner of a political contest, but also reward candidates who try to win over a broad swath of the electorate.

It is no accident that electing more moderates would change the conditions that have made the G.O.P. a hothouse for far-right extremists, said Richard L. Hasen, an election-law expert and director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.

“So much of this has to do with the battle for the soul of the Republican Party,” he said.

Not everyone buys the logic. Academic research suggests that ending gerrymandering and adopting certain versions of ranked-choice voting can indeed dampen hyper-partisanship and promote cooperation. But the evidence favoring open primaries is more mixed….

However laudable, many experts and activists say that the proposed fixes are weak medicine to cure what ails American democracy.

“Everyone agrees that our political system is dysfunctional,” said Nate Persily, a leading expert on voting and democracy at Stanford Law School. “But this is not a particularly effective way to deal with our hair-on-fire moment. When insurrectionists are breaking down the Capitol doors, there’s only so much that changing primary election rules is going to do.”…

Ned Foley responds to Nate’s comments here.

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“Ranked-Choice Voting Draws Bipartisan Ire”

TAP:

In an era warped by extreme partisan discord, ranked-choice voting has managed to unsettle Republican and Democratic politicians alike. Long fearful of African American voter strength and cross-racial coalitions that sometimes spring up, many white Republican political power brokers in the South have been strategizing to eliminate an option like RCV before it can garner an iota of interest or support.

Republicans can point to losses from the RCV system. Only Alaska and Maine use RCV in state and federal elections (Hawaii also uses RCV in certain statewide races). In Maine, Jared Golden earned his 2018 swing-seat victory in Congress after an instant runoff put him over the top against Republican Bruce Poliquin, the incumbent congressman, who led after the first round.

RCV opponents in Alaska have launched a repeal campaign after Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola fended off 12 candidates, including former Republican governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, after three rounds of balloting in 2022 for the state’s sole congressional seat. The 2024 initiative proposes a return to a traditional partisan primary system and will appear on the November ballot.

Rolling Stone/Documented investigation found that far-right groups have poured millions into a coordinated campaign to destabilize RCV, principally because the mechanism gives voters more choices—and when they have choices, they have the opportunity to select less polarizing candidates. The Republican National Committee officially declared its opposition to ranked-choice voting in 2023. The party claimed that the mechanism makes voting too complex and time-consuming, leading to “ballot exhaustion” and other euphemisms that would make George Orwell seize up.’Some longtime Democratic incumbents are also keen to shut down threats to their power. The District of Columbia Democratic Party has opposed a ballot initiative, currently in the signature-gathering phase, that would institute RCV for the city elections. Now in her third term, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has called RCV “a bad idea.”…

Rick Hasen, a UCLA professor of law and political science who specializes in election law, told the Prospect that RCV is “better understood as a fear of moderate candidates being elected to office.” He adds, “If you think about places like Alabama and Mississippi, they’ve got Republican majorities, but they’ve got a fairly sizable Black population that hasn’t been able to get its fair share of political power. Maybe moving toward ranked-choice voting could [create] coalitions that could produce some more moderate Republicans.”

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“What Is “Fusion Voting”? Just a Way to Save the Country, That’s All”

Dan Cantor and Bill Kristol ask:

What in the world could possibly bring the two of us together? One of us is a slightly reformed Reaganite, the other a slightly chastened social democrat, each of us mugged by authoritarianism. In the 1980s and 1990s, one of us worked for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; the other worked in the presidential campaigns of the Reverend Jesse Jackson Jr. and co-founded a progressive third party.

And yet, here we are, collaborating on a project that we believe can help restore the political health of the country we both love.

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Ranked-choice roundup

David Daley on ranked-choice voting and the spoiler effect.

Pluribus News looks at the states looking toward ranked-choice and the states turning away – and the municipalities using ranked-choice that may be raising the prominence of both conversations. (UPDATE: Fox News also joins the chat.)

Steven Hill on who likes and who doesn’t like the Alaska version of RCV.

And an interesting new paper on ranked choice voting and turnout:

Many jurisdictions in the United States have recently adopted single-winner ranked choice voting (RCV) to replace first-past-the-post plurality elections. This study contributes to the literature examining the potential consequences of changing to RCV by modeling the relationship between electoral systems and voter turnout. We propose that RCV may increase turnout by incentivizing increased contacts with voters. Previous attempts at assessing the relationship between RCV and turnout in the US have been limited by a lack of individual-level turnout data measured across all cases where RCV is and is not used. The study utilizes large, unique data from administrative voter turnout records that overcomes this limitation. We find significant and substantially higher probabilities of turnout in places that use RCV, and find evidence that campaigns in RCV places have greater incidences of direct voter contacting than in similar places that do not use RCV.

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“One of the biggest changes ever proposed for Colorado elections is on a journey to this November’s ballot”

Colorado Public Radio with more on the proposed initiative to implement a top-four primary with ranked-choice voting for the general election.

Meanwhile, there’s a signature campaign in Maine to get two initiatives on the ballot: voter ID and a repeal of participation in the national popular vote compact.

And don’t forget Arizona’s ballot measure to make ballot measures impracticable.

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“Imagine if Congress was elected by Proportional Representation”

Steven Hill:

A number of US cities and towns – from New York City, Cincinnati and Cleveland to Chilton County AL and a number of counties in Pennsylvania — have had a history of electing their city councils or county governments by one of several proportional representation electoral methods. But only one US state, as far as I know, has ever used a proportional method to elect its legislature. That’s the state of Illinois.

For 110 years until 1980, Illinois used a method called cumulative voting to elect its state House of Representatives. Instead of single-seat “winner take all” districts, in which legislators were elected one district at a time, cumulative voting in Illinois used three-seat districts, and a candidate needed only 25% of the popular vote to win one of the three seats. Cumulative voting, which is known as a “semi-proportional” voting method, is designed to foster broad representation, more voter choice and less bitter partisanship. Illinois’ experience with this method has a lot to teach us about how to address the severe crisis of American democracy….

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“‘Deceptive’ MO ballot question bans non-U.S. citizens from voting. It’s already illegal”

KC Star:

When Missouri voters head to the ballot box this year, they’ll be asked to sign off on a measure that would ban ranked-choice voting or ranking candidates by preference.

But the first bullet point that will appear on the ballot question has nothing to do with that issue. It instead will ask Missourians whether to ban non-U.S. citizens from voting in the state, a practice that is already illegal. Disputes among lawmakers over whether to include a ban on non-citizen voting ultimately tanked a separate measure to weaken direct democracy. It was a key win for Democrats, who argued Republicans were using the non-citizen language as a way to deceive voters.

However, Missouri voters will still see similar language on the ballot this year. House Republicans, in the waning hours of the legislative session, passed a measure that included a ban on non-citizen voting attached to the ballot question that would outlaw ranked-choice voting.

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