| Joe Lancaster | Reason.com |
After Sen. Raphael Warnock (D–Ga.) defeated GOP challenger Herschel Walker this month, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, indicated that he would propose new changes to the state’s rules that could benefit not just voters but third-party candidates as well. Raffensperger will ask state lawmakers to consider switching to a ranked choice ballot for future elections.
It makes it easier for voters to vote their conscience.
If voters balk at the idea of a senator representing the entire state while only capturing 45 percent of the total vote, an instant runoff would be a much better option. FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that supports ranked choice voting, argued after the runoff votes were tallied that an instant runoff would do better to capture the feelings of the electorate. Between the November election and the December runoff, it noted, “total turnout dropped from 3.9 million to 3.5 million.” In other words, 400,000 fewer voters turned out for the runoff, around five times what Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver received in November.
Walker and Warnock also each received fewer votes overall in the runoff than in the general. It seems illogical to claim that Warnock did not earn reelection with 1.9 million votes, but he did a month later with 1.8 million.
Ranked choice voting has its detractors. But by negating the “spoiler effect,” it makes it easier for voters to vote their conscience. Voters can pick a third-party candidate; if that candidate doesn’t win, then the ballot will simply be retallied with the second choice first. Voters can also choose to leave their extra spots blank. Many Alaska Republicans did exactly that this year rather than vote for Sarah Palin for U.S. House.