In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution Heather interviews Craig Cayetano about Ranked Choice Voting, a remarkable voting system that could revolutionize NJ’s elections.
Craig Cayetano advocates for a Ranked Choice Voting system. In his role as co-chair of the Green Party of NJ, he educates and organizes around this issue.
What is Ranked Choice Voting?
To explain what ranked choice voting is, we must compare it to what it isn’t. New Jersey currently utilizes a “first past the post” system of voting. You go into the voting booth and cast a vote for 1 person. Next, you cross you fingers that your candidate gets more than 50%. On the other hand, Ranked Choice is something very different. It has been around a very long time. A number of cities have utilized this system.
Yes, You Vote for Multiple People
Instead of voting for one person, you would vote for as many as you want. For example if you really love Candidate A, then you rank them first. If you kinda like candidate B and they make you feel safe, then you rank them second. If Candidate C is horrible you don’t rank them at all. For example, last election many allies could have voted for The Green Party candidate Madelyn Hoffman. Instead, they bought into fear of Hugin becoming Senator, and “held their nose” to vote for Menendez. Ranked Choice Voting would change that whole dynamic. Voters could vote for representatives they actually want.
Ok, So Whats With Voting Rounds?
Voting continues until someone gets a majority. If a candidate gets that in the first round, great, we end there. If not then your second choice comes into play. The tabulation software eliminates the candidate with the least votes. Their votes are then reassigned to the voter’s second choice candidate. This continues until a clear winner emerges.
Elevation of Discourse
A more fair election is only one consequence of Ranked Choice Voting. Under ranked choice, candidates stop going low. They choose not to release attack ads and instead they discuss actual topics. In other words, attack ads actually hurt candidates under ranked choice. The conversation changes. Discussions can center issues. This leads to significantly better solutions than our binary choice system. Voters become re-engaged. Politics ceases to be a dirty word.
Maine has been working on implementing ranked choice since 2015. Politicians fought tooth and nail. If the system is working for you, you don’t want things to change. Finally, Maine ratified the ballot measure. They used this system for the first time this past election. The election played out that in the 2nd round the democratic candidate won the election. Massachusetts and Alaska are now working on similar measures. Tim Eustace first proposed a ranked choice bill in NJ in 2015. Andrew Zwicker introduced a comprehensive ranked choice bill (A5205) this year into the NJ legislature.
Paper Ballots and Election Safety
Admit it, are you concerned about the legitimacy of our elections? Most machines currently don’t produce a paper trail. You pull the lever and pray someone counted your vote. All that changes under a Ranked Choice Voting Bill. The machines have to produce a paper ballot. That paper trail returns. You can stop worrying if someone is cheating or hacking. Your vote will count. We need secure and fair elections if we care about our democracy. If you care about nothing else. Then call your legislators and tell them you are concerned about election safety. Politics are dirty and shady, but they don’t have to be. This issue crosses the political party line.
If any of the grassroots groups like Action Together, Working Families, or Indivisible would like to work with Craig or us here at NJ Revolution Radio to host a forum about ranked choice voting you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information check out FairVote.org
or join Craig’s facebook group “Ranked Choice Voting for New Jersey“