In presidential elections almost all of the 50 states use the Winner-Take-All system to select their electors in the Electoral College. Unless an Independent or Third Party candidate gets a minimum of 50% of the presidential vote in a state they will get exactly 0% of the Electoral College votes for that state. And that’s not right.
A proportional voting system instead of Winner-Take-All would be much fairer. If 10% of the voters in a state voted for a Third Party candidate for president then 10% of the Electoral College votes for their state should be for the Third Party candidate instead of the current 0%.
An excellent example of how unfair this can be to Independent and Third Party voters is the 1992 presidential election where Independent candidate H. Ross Perot got 19% of the national popular vote but 0% of the Electoral College votes because he couldn’t get at least 50% of the vote in any one state.
As a result of the Winner-Take-All system anyone who votes for a presidential candidate that is not from one of the two major parties is throwing away their vote unless their candidate can get at least 50% of the presidential vote in their state.
This leaves Independent and Third Party voters in presidential elections with just three options, all of which are bad:
1. If you don’t like either major political party candidate you can vote for a Third Party candidate that you like better but know that if they can’t get at least 50% of the vote in your state your vote effectively doesn’t count at all.
2. You can vote for the “lessor of two evils” of one the two major political party candidates even if you don’t really want them to be president. But at least this way your vote will count. and have some effect on which candidate wins the election.
3. You don’t vote for any presidential candidate. This way you don’t have to vote for someone you don’t really want to win but at the cost of having your voice not heard at election time. In our democracy all U.S. citizens should vote and have their voice heard at election time even if their preferred candidate doesn’t win.
With more people today registering as Independents or for Third Parties because they don’t like either of the two major party candidates more voters in presidential elections will have to choose from the above three bad choices when they vote for president. And that’s not good for our democracy.
If your state adopts Ranked Choice Voting for president, Independent and Third Party voters can vote for a Third Party candidate they really want to be president but not throw away their vote even if their candidate gets less than 50% of the presidential vote in their state.
Let’s say there are three candidates for president, a Republican, a Democrat and an Independent. With Ranked Choice Voting when you vote you rank the candidates in order of your preference. If you’re an independent you can rank the Independent candidate as you’re #1 choice, because that’s who you really want to win. Then for your second choice you can choose one of the two major party candidates that you consider the “lessor of two evils”.
This way you really can have your cake and eat it too. Your true voice will be heard at election time in your first choice for president, because that’s who you really want to win. But if they don’t have a real chance of winning, your vote will still count because you will have helped the “lessor of two evils” to win and your vote will still have influenced who won the election even if they were not your first choice.
Ranked Choice Voting is a much fairer way to vote for Independent and Third Party voters to vote for president than under the current Winner-Take-All system.
Ranked Choice Voting benefits more than just Independent and Third Party voters in presidential elections. But that will be addressed in another blog post.