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Those in favor of Ranked Choice Voting speak out

KIFI/Braydon Wilson

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI)-  A new way of voting may be on its way to Idaho. The voting system is ranked choice voting (R.C.V.).

The system is based on the idea voters can rank their candidates in order of preference. 

For example, if there are three candidates on a ballot running for a seat, voters would mark their first choice in the first column, their second choice in the second column, and their third choice in the third column. This same process would hold true if there were more than three candidates as well. 

In the event no one candidate doesn't have 50% of the vote, the candidate with the lowest percentage of votes gets eliminated and those voters' second choice gets more votes. This process continues until there is a winner.

Those in support of the system also are in support of open primaries. They argue both R.C.V. and open primaries will empower the voters rather than limit them.

"We're proposing to replace that with an open, nonpartisan primary where everyone's free to vote. Now, an additional part of this initiative that makes it even stronger is that in the general election, voters will have a chance to not just choose their favorite candidate, but also, if they want to, to choose a second choice, a third choice, a fourth choice. The ranked-choice voting system in this system really gives voters a much more meaningful voice in their elections," said Luke Mayville the co-founder of Reclaim Idaho.

Mayville and other supporters of the initiative say they have heard a lot of voters are discouraged by the current voting climate in Idaho.

"When you have to make a choice in the primary between a party and the candidates on that ballot and that major party is the only ballot that has any candidates on it, how discouraging is that for an independent voter or another voter who doesn't want to be aligned with that particular party and they get a ballot with nobody's name on it? How encouraging is that to come the next time and try to vote because you aren't voting for anybody, but you don't get a ballot with anybody's name on it?" said Debbie Reid-Oleson a supporter of the Reclaim Idaho initiative.

"They don't really think their vote will matter very much. And that makes sense because so much of the time our elections are not competitive. So when you show up to vote, there's not really a competitive race that you get to vote in," Mayville said.

Mayville and Oleson also shared how with the way the current primary election system is set up, many would-be voters when they find out that they are registered in a certain way end up feeling left out and leave the polls. Or they vote but never go back to vote.

They say that with open primaries and ranked-choice voting a lot of those disgruntled voters will come back out in force.

They also say that having more choices on our ballot not only through open primaries means candidates from all parties will be on the same ballot allowing for the voter to have the ability to freely express their choice and support whichever candidate they choose.

"The reform that we're proposing is going to give people a real say in their own elections," Mayville said.

"Our government should be by the people and for the people. That's the basis of our democracy is the people's vote. And when you start limiting our ability to vote, you then have a government that doesn't represent us anymore," Oleson said.

Mayville and Oleson say they hope to have enough signatures on their petition to have the initiative on a ballot for next year's elections.

RCV is also successfully used in 50 communities across the nation Mayville says. Alaska and Maine use the system, and many cities in Utah use the system as well.

For our past coverage on RCV, you can find more on what it is here. And what those against the initiative had to say here.

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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