OUR TWO-PARTY POLITICAL SYSTEM IS NOT REPRESENTATIVE, BUT WE CAN FIX IT.
Having only two viable major parties creates an unrepresentative democracy for multiple reasons. First and foremost, we know that the diverse range of political positions of voters do not fit well into just two parties, yet we continue to try and cram everyone into one of these two camps. This turns many people away from voting entirely, having lost faith in the system’s ability to represent them at all. Secondly, the US vs THEM dynamic of a two party system creates polarization and division, which has a toxic effect on political discourse, and on society in general. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a two party system lowers the bar for a politician to earn your vote: if voting one's true values means voting 'third party,’ suddenly fear of the 'greater evil’ enters into the voter’s decision making, and often persuades them to ’settle’ for the lesser evil. We are all too familiar with these problems, but many are unaware that there is an easy solution, one that is increasingly gaining acceptance in states and municipalities across the country; RANKED CHOICE VOTING.
RANKED CHOICE VOTING IS THE SOLUTION TO THE SPOILER EFFECT.
Although there are laws that erect hurdles against ’third parties’ in the United States, the primary force that locks us into a two party system is our ‘first-past-the-post voting system. In political science this is “Duverger’s Law.” In essence, the reason our voting system favors a two party system is because the spoiler effect and fear of the ‘greater evil’ so effectively discourage third party voting that the ‘major’ parties hardly need to anything more to stay in power than retain this voting system. Ranked Choice Voting is a game changer.. In Ranked Choice Voting, the voter is allowed to indicate their preferences on the ballot by ranking the candidates from most preferred to least preferred. After counting of first-choice votes, the last place candidate is eliminated and those votes now go to the voters second choice candidate. By eliminating the spoiler effect, RCV eliminates ’third party’ stigma.
RANKED CHOICE VOTING IS GAINING MOMENTUM ACROSS THE COUNTRY
RCV has been recently adopted in two US states (Maine and Alaska) and over 50 municipalities, including in New York City for party primaries. You are invited to join the movement by supporting organizations like Fair Vote and Rank the Vote, or by joining your local RCV organization. Here in Connecticut the grassroots organization fighting for RCV is Voter Choice Connecticut. Let’s eliminate the spoiler effect, end polarization, stop compromising our values, and start voting for the things we all deserve, because it’s the only way we’ll ever get them.
"The simple-majority single-ballot system favours the two-party system." ~ Maurice Duverger
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