Why we need ranked choice voting (RCV)

Maybe you think our current voting method is working just fine.  Just take the time to read this FOX News story, “Massachusetts mayor recalled – and re-elected – amid federal indictments” from Fall River, MA.  The short version is that faced with Federal indictments for tax fraud and stealing from investors, the city’s mayor, Mayor Correia refused to step down so the Council held an election with two questions on the ballot. 

  • Q1: Should the mayor be recalled? 
  • Q2 If recalled which of five candidates should replace him? 

Oddly enough Correia was one of the five names to replace him.  On question 1, he was recalled with roughly 2/3rds of the voters voting to recall.  On question 2, the 1/3 who voted not to recall him of course voted for him as the new mayor.  Because the other 2/3rds who wanted him recalled split their votes among the other 4 candidates the mayor was re-elected as his own replacement.  Even though it was clear that 2/3rds of the voters opposed him, our flawed plurality system put him back in the office against the will of the majority. 

This sort of thing happens quite often in regularly scheduled elections and voters just assume that a plurality winner would beat every one of his opponents with a majority in head-to-head matchups.  In a normal election there’s no way to prove whether this perception is right or wrong.  But in this case the ballot asked the right questions.  We can clearly see how Correia would lose to every opponent in a head-to-head race.  Ranked Choice ballots give the voting algorithm more information about voters’ wishes from which the collective will of the electorate may be determined.  For instance one common method simply eliminates the weakest candidates one at a time until only two remain.  Mayor Correia would never reach the majority needed to win that final round.

For more on ranked choice voting try Amazon’s free preview of my ebook “Finding Our True Political Center – Through the Coming Revolution in Voting.”  On your computer just click on “Look Inside.”