| Raymond Hole | WWMT |
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — If you were out and about over weekend you may have been approached by a canvasser, asking you to sign a petition. In Kalamazoo, one particular initiative could change the way voters select a mayor and commissioners.
Rank MI Vote, a grassroots non-profit, wanted voters in Kalamazoo to have a chance to approve what’s called “ranked choice voting” for mayoral and city commission elections this November.
…And that changes how people run, that changes how candidates run.
Proponents of the change said it would make elections more equitable by forcing candidates to appeal to a broader voting base.
Under ranked choice, a candidate has to have at least 50% of the vote to be elected.
“They have to run on a much broader platform of improvement ideas for the communities to win an election, versus just you know, one or two things,” Ron Zimmerman, RankMIVote ballot question committee President said. “To win, you have to get broad support from a number of different demographics as a team to win the position and that changes how people run, that changes how candidates run.”
Currently, voters choose to elect one candidate. Under the ranked choice proposal, voters would rank their top 3 or 4 choices for an office.
Under this proposal, after the votes are counted, candidates would have to get at least 50% of the vote to win an election. If no one reaches 50 percent, the votes for the least popular candidate would be redistributed to voters’ second choice.
If there still isn’t a winner, the process repeats until one candidate reaches at least 50% of the vote.
Zimmerman said, “In places that we’ve implemented it across the country, it’s helped reduce that polarization and the risk that very extreme factions end up winning elections when they don’t really represent the majority of the community and that’s what rank choice helps eliminate.”
So far, Maine and Alaska have implemented ranked choice voting state-wide. In Michigan, voters in Ann Arbor approved a similar measure in November 2021.
To get the question on the November 2022 ballot, Rank MI Vote will need to collect enough signatures by August 1st.