In 2010 Maine found itself in an interesting position. They had just elected a governor who described State Democrats as wanting to “give it to the people without Vaseline”, and would later be compared to Donald Trump in terms of temperament and actions. Governor Paul LePage had been elected with only 38 percent of the vote. The people of Maine were surprised to say the least, but instead of just accepting this fundamental flaw in democracy, they decided to fix it. Hence “instant runoff voting”.
In IRV you rank your favorite candidates in the order that you like them. Then if your first choice does not win, your votes get to go to your second choice, then your third, and so on until someone gets 50 percent of the votes. The advantage is three-fold. First, it encourages candidates to try to appeal to all voters, not just the extremes of their base since they will need to somehow get at least 50 percent of the votes. Second, you only need one election. Instead of a primary (where the partisan base turns out at much higher rates than the average voter) followed by a second general election, you only need to go to the polls, or mail in your ballot, once. This system would result in a huge saving on election costs that can be spent on other services. Lastly, it ensures that all parties will be involved in a meaningful election. Under Washington’s current top two/jungle primary system, two members of the same political party may make it to the general election, depriving voters of a real choice.
Some people may say that a new way to do elections will be too complicated. But Maine just pulled off the feat of having an IRV election. And the people liked it so much that they voted to overrule their “representatives” who wanted to scuttle its implementation despite the fact it came from a 2016 voter initiative. If we want to change the culture in Olympia, and decrease political gridlock, then we to look for new solutions to old problems. That is why I support this new way to conduct elections and believe that Washington should follow Maine’s lead.