Tusinski: Ranked choice voting is a solution to an American problem

Tusinski%3A+Ranked+choice+voting+is+a+solution+to+an+American+problem

Collegian | Madelyn Hendricks

Dylan Tusinski, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

In his farewell address, George Washington warned against the creation of American political parties. He firmly believed the establishment of political factions would divide the country and cripple the democratic republic he and the other Founding Fathers created.

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If you ask me, he was right. Partisanship is reaching historical highs. The American political gridlock is seeing unprecedented tension. Long-standing nonpartisan institutions have been rapidly politicized. Roughly a fifth of the country is sympathetic to political violence. I mean, hell, our political divisions have nearly half the country anticipating a potential second civil war.

One way or another, this darkness has got to give, and Fort Collins may soon be a beacon of light in our political cloud.

This November, Fort Collins will vote on whether to take a big step in fixing these problems. When they cast their ballots this fall, Fort Collins voters will decide whether to implement ranked choice voting in the city in what may just be one of the most significant ballot measures in recent Fort Collins history.

“While ranked choice voting may not change much for individual voters receiving their ballot, it will most definitely create far-reaching change in our political systems.”

To most, ranked choice voting is a vague concept. You may have some notion as to what it is, but the specifics might be a little fuzzy.

To put it briefly, ranked choice voting would be a structural change to the way we cast our ballots. Instead of voting for a single candidate in a given race, voters would be able to rank the candidates by preference. Additionally, candidates would need to earn a majority of votes to win rather than just coming in first place among declared candidates.

Luke Doescher, campaign manager for Better Ballot Fort Collins and management lead of Ranked Choice Voting for Fort Collins, said ranked choice voting will be a shake-up to the political establishment rather than to individual voters.

“Compared to the way we vote now, with ranked choice voting, you still vote for the candidates you like the most — you’ll rank them first — but you have the choice to rank the other candidates on the ballot in order, and the candidates you rank second, third, fourth or fifth will never impact a higher ranked candidate,” Doescher said.

While ranked choice voting may not change much for individual voters receiving their ballot, it will most definitely create far-reaching change in our political systems.

In an era of hyperpartisanship, ranked choice voting can reduce political polarization. In an era when more Americans want a third party than in the past, ranked choice voting could help third-party candidates win. American voter turnout is lagging behind other developed nations, and ranked choice voting could increase voter turnout and diversity.

“Ranked choice voting isn’t going to immediately solve some of the problems that have led to the way things are, but it’s a really good first step,” Doescher said.

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Doescher said ranked choice voting can specifically benefit Fort Collins by helping dismantle the rigid political establishment the city has.

“Right now, the political parties we have encourage people not to run for certain races, and that definitely happens at the local level behind the scenes more than we realize,” Doescher said. “With (ranked choice voting), … everybody can run, and they can compete for the first choices and second choices.”

The benefits of ranked choice voting are clear. The detriments of our current election systems are even clearer. This November, it’ll be up to Fort Collins voters to decide whether we want to be a part of the solution or part of the problem.

Reach Dylan Tusinski at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @unwashedtiedye.