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Ending voter and candidate exclusion.

Ranked Choice: Eliminating vote splitting on the general election ballot.

Posted by on April 21, 2019


A closed primary allows each major party the opportunity to consolidate their support behind a single candidate for each office. In the past, this eliminated vote splitting in the general election – because the two major parties represented the vast majority of voters. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Democratic party has begun to fracture badly.

“Liberal” and “Progressive” are not the same thing, and many progressive voters do not support the priorities and solutions advocated by liberal Democrats. Indeed, many progressive voters are not liberal. Increasingly, these “other” progressives are choosing not to participate in the Democratic primary as voters or candidates. As a result, in the coming years, two or more strong progressive candidates will likely advance to every significant general election. The predictable outcome is that a single conservative candidate will win the election by default. (Bush, Gore/Nader – Florida 2000)

“Ranked Choice Voting” (RCV) is a simple and effective method of consolidating all the progressive vote prior to the final vote tally in a general election.

“Ranked Choice Voting” (RCV) is a hybrid general election that uses a two stage vote tally to combine a multiple candidate general election with a top-two run-off.

An example of Ranked Choice in use.

Shown below is a mock RCV ballot for the 2000 Florida general election. Voters using an RCV ballot are allowed to indicate a first and second choice for each office. Any combination of choices is permissible – as long as the vote-for-one rules are not violated.

Florida 2000 General Election Ballot

Shown below are mock results for the ballot shown above. Note:

  1. It’s permissible to choose the same candidate for a first and second choice. Many voters did this for Gore and Bush.
  2. It’s permissible to leave the second choice blank. (It isn’t shown above, but it’s also permissible to leave the first choice blank.)
  3. Major party voters typically assume that minor party voters will always support a Democrat or Republican as their second choice. The results shown below are probably more realistic.
Florida 2000 Mock Election Results

Next, the results of the first tally are shown. The top two candidates were Bush and Gore. The other two candidates were eliminated along with their votes.

Results of First RCV Tally

Finally, the second tally consolidates the votes for the top two candidates, and hopefully, determines a single top candidate. Note that RCV is designed specifically to solve the problem of vote splitting in the general election. This example is realistic, in that without RCV, George Bush could easily have won this election with a margin of only 537 votes.

Results of Second RCV Tally

Consolidating the progressive vote.

All the progressive vote needs to be consolidated before the final vote tally in each general election – or the conservative candidate will win the election by default. Currently, Democrats are still colluding with Republicans to exclude Independent and Minor party candidates in the primary. In effect, forcing voters to choose between the lesser of two evils in the general election.

The exclusion strategy has worked, and still appears to be working for Republicans. For Democrats, however, the exclusion strategy, while it worked in decades past – is no longer effective. Many “other” progressives are refusing to participate in the Democratic primary precisely because of tacit Democratic support for voter and candidate exclusion.

Progressive Democrats need to make a decision: Continue collaborating with Liberal Democrats and Republicans to exclude “other” progressive voters and candidates – or – cooperate with “other” progressives to win elections. Which is more important?

If you’re a progressive Democrat, and you think winning elections is the top priority – there are ways to cooperate with “other” progressives. Check out https://www.democracyfound.org/ . This website belongs to a Wisconsin based group working to combine a Top-Four primary with Ranked Choice Voting in the general election. “Other” progressives are much more likely to support a Democratic candidate in the general election if – “other” progressive have a fair chance to compete in the primary.

Also, be sure and check out the rest of the website here at https://hybridprimary.org/the-hybrid-primary/ . The hybrid primary is a Top-Four primary that incorporates the existing closed major party primaries using a two-stage vote tally. For major party candidates, the Hybrid Primary eliminates vote splitting in the primary. It also makes it much more likely that Independent and Third-party candidates will qualify for the general election ballot.