Rank Choice Voting

A proposal that would make every vote matter

Some people believe their vote won’t matter and there is no point in going to the polls. Rank choice voting could change that.

Live outreach director for Rank MI Vote Ron Zimmerman hosted an event Wednesday, Feb. 5, that presented the workings and benefits of rank choice voting.

Zimmerman’s key point, one that he circled back to many times during the talk, and reiterated in a personal interview, was how people should have the opportunity to believe their votes matter and actually feel represented in the polls.

“We’re going across the state … to educate people on the deficiencies of our current voting system and how that plays into the poor politics and poor democracy that we’re seeing,” said Zimmerman. “There’s a lot of people afraid to vote their will, afraid to vote the candidate that best represents them because they’ll feel like they’re wasting their vote.”

Zimmerman began the talk by showing a video discussing how America’s politics are broken, but there is still hope for the system to be mended.

One suggested fix which, if proposed correctly, could include several of the others, was rank choice voting.

Rank choice voting may not guarantee that a voter’s first choice wins, but it gives voters the freedom to rank their favorite candidates in order of their choice. Once all of the ballots have been turned in, they are run through an algorithm that sorts each candidate in order, just like a normal election. However, that is where the system changes. If no candidate has the support of 50% of the voters, the candidate with the lowest support is removed and the candidate on each ballot that was listed as a voter’s second choice is given that vote. The pattern continues until a candidate has a clear majority vote, taking into account every eligible voter’s ballots.

This is not a new development. Ireland and Australia have been using this system for almost 100 years to decide major positions. Eastpointe, Mich., used rank choice voting last November. Five more states have already been approved to use it in the 2020 primary election.

“They’re already seeing more women, more people of color, not just running but winning … and a 15% to 20% increase in voter turnout,” said Zimmerman. “More people feel like their vote counts in the end.”

Some states have rank choice voting as an option for certain occupations, but not for everyone. For example, Louisiana allows only military and people working overseas to use rank choice voting.

Zimmerman explained that this system is used to avoid run-off, saving millions of dollars by preventing any extra campaigns.

Despite the low attendance, rank choice voting is still seeing support in Big Rapids. There are local organizations and political groups that have reached out to Zimmerman in order to help him spread the word.

“I’ve felt that I’ve thrown my vote away the last two presidential elections, and I’m sick of it,” Ferris business administration and human resources senior Stella Mayo said.

Mayo is not alone in such feelings, which is part of the reason there is a growing wave of support for rank choice voting.

While it may not be something that can be implemented right away, Rank MI Vote is working hard to move forward in Michigan and are always looking for donations and volunteers. Anyone who wants to be involved or learn more can sign up at rankmivote.com; they even have a collection of cool shirts for anyone looking to expand their wardrobe.