Sending Office: Honorable Jamie Raskin
Deadline to be an Original Cosponsor is COB Thursday, September 19th
Nothing we do in Congress is more important than protecting, strengthening and improving the political institutions of American democracy.
That is why we ask you to join us as an original cosponsor of the Ranked Choice Voting Act, which will make our elections fairer, more efficient, and more representative. This Act will require that every nominating and general election for House and Senate
be conducted with ranked choice voting (RCV). Already used for congressional elections in Maine and in dozens of state and local contexts, RCV makes elections better for both voters and candidates by ensuring that winners will be elected with majority popular
support but without time-consuming and expensive runoff elections which have been proven to generate lower turnout.
Right now, virtually all Members of Congress are nominated—and then elected—by voters who cast a single vote for a single candidate. That means that if there are more than two candidates running for a position, a candidate will win with only a plurality
of the votes, or that the race will have to be decided in a subsequent runoff election. But we know that turnout in runoffs is often sparse and unrepresentative, which means many voters will be effectively left out of the decisive phase of the election.
Traditional “single choice” voting can also discourage voters from expressing their true preferences, because they may worry that voting for a lesser-known candidate who is their preference could splinter the field and result in the election of another candidate
with less than a majority of the vote—or in a lengthy and expensive runoff election.
We can address these problems by effectively holding “instant runoffs” via ranked choice voting. With RCV, voters rank candidates in order of choice. If a candidate receives more than half of the first choices, he or she wins right out of the gate, just
like in any election. But if not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate as ‘number 1’ will then have their votes counted for their next favored choice. This process continues until a candidate wins with more
than half the votes.
Under the Act, all states would adopt ranked choice voting in primary and general elections for Congress beginning in 2022. The bill would authorize federal funding to help states implement this change, including adapting equipment if necessary and conducting
Ranked choice voting empowers voters to express fine-grained political preferences while participating effectively in determining who will garner the majority of votes and win office. This system also encourages candidates to compete for all people’s votes
rather than simply to target a core base of voters while writing off other constituencies.
Ranked choice voting has been in use in certain local elections for decades. It is being used by some states for the Democratic presidential primaries. And in 2018, Maine became the first state to nominate and elect its members of Congress with RCV. The
Maine elections proceeded smoothly and efficiently, and the system was upheld in federal court.
As demonstrated in Maine and in cities such as San Francisco and Santa Fe, ranked choice voting engages new voters, invigorates democracy and helps parties have stronger nominees:
- It allows voters to have real choices and vote honestly without fear of vote splitting or “spoilers” and without exhausting runoff elections;
- It improves and incentivizes candidate civility, because candidates compete to be the #2 or even #3 or #4 choice of voters, and in primaries it helps parties nominate unifying candidates;
- It makes voters happier, as exit polls routinely show voters find ranking candidates easy and want to continue using this comprehensive and sensitive system.
The Ranked Choice Voting Act would strengthen and revitalize our democracy. It will ensure that candidates who are elected to Congress are the ones who have most successfully assembled a majority of constituents. It will also lift up the voices of a much
broader swath of the voting public, because voters who prefer less popular candidates in the first round of voting can still play a role in forging a majority for the ultimate winning candidate. And it will do so without the delay, expense, and undemocratic
aspects of flawed conventional runoff elections.
We urge you to join us in cosponsoring the Ranked Choice Voting Act. Please contact Jacob Glick in Rep. Raskin’s office with cosponsor requests or questions at
Very truly yours,
Jamie Raskin Don Beyer
Member of Congress Member of Congress
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