| Brad Devereaux | MLive |

KALAMAZOO, MI — A petition drive is under way to change the way Kalamazoo voters decide who is elected to office, through the use of ranked choice voting.

Volunteers have been collecting signatures for the effort in recent months in Kalamazoo, and they are preparing for a push to place the issue on the November ballot to ask voters to weigh in.

[Not] having to worry about wasting my vote is very powerful.

Former Kalamazoo city Commissioner Jack Urban spoke at the Kalamazoo City Commission meeting Tuesday, July 5. “I want to find another way — some way to reduce the polarization in this country,” Urban said. “I want voters to consider an alternative means of measuring preferences for candidates that is more nuanced than victory or banishment.”

With ranked choice voting, the election system would factor in information about voters’ other candidate preferences to determine the outcome, he said.

“If you’d like to see the option of moving to ranked choice voting in city elections be put on the ballot in November, sign the petition Jeff Messer is circulating and others so that voters may consider it,” Urban told city leaders and residents Tuesday.

The Kalamazoo petition drive now has about 1,400 signatures toward a goal of 3,000 by the end of this month, Messer said. He has collected 344 signatures himself, Messer said.

Ben Quartey, of Kalamazoo, also volunteers to collect signatures. He and others have been asking for them at events such as Lunchtime Live and the Kalamazoo Farmers Market.

“Being able to choose whoever I want even though it’s not the most popular candidate without having to worry about wasting my vote is very powerful,” Quartey told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette.

If enacted, those elected to office would have to receive a vote majority, according to Rank MI vote.

In 2019, the city of Eastpointe, Michigan, made history after it held its first citywide election using ranked-choice as the result of a settlement with a federal court, which allowed it to bypass the state law impeding other Michigan cities from implementing it.

Organizers are focused on Kalamazoo currently, he said, and they would like to push for statewide legislation in the future. Learn more at www.rankmivote.org .

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