If this election season has taught us anything, it’s that our two-party system is broken. More than ever, the American public is displeased with the options presented to them for President. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, 57% of the population believes that there should be a third-party with only 38% believing that Democrats and Republicans do an adequate job. Although there are third-parties in the United States, mainly the Libertarian party and Green party, it can feel futile to vote for either. With two parties dominating the political landscape, voting Libertarian or Green feels like a waste of a vote. However, there is a way we can fix this: ranked-choice voting. While it certainly won’t fix everything wrong with our political system, it would help to make third-parties a viable option.
In essence, a ranked-choice voting system would allow individuals to rank their choices for president. All the first choice votes would be accounted for then, if a single candidate reaches 50% of the votes, they are elected president. In the more likely case that none of them reach the voting threshold, the candidate who received the least amount of votes is eliminated. The individuals who chose that candidate for their first pick would then have their vote transferred to their second choice. This process is repeated until a candidate reaches 50% of the votes. This method of electing officials would fix many of the problems in our current system. Importantly, it would make third-parties viable because votes can be transferred from a less popular candidate to a more popular one.
By making outsider parties viable, political parties would need to consider the needs of the people more as they have greater freedom of choice. As of now, the Democratic and Republican parties can more or less nominate whomever they want because they know their core supporters will have to vote for them. This is exactly the case with the current election. According to a poll from the Pew Research center, 48% of voters say that they are unsatisfied with the presidential candidates. If the two main political parties had to compete with third-parties for people’s votes, they would make a greater effort to connect with voters. While the problem of voter satisfaction won’t be completely solved with ranked-choice voting, it will help to alleviate the problem.
Switching to a ranked voting system would also allow for a greater diversity of opinion in American politics. As of now, the realm of acceptable political discourse is more or less confined to the agendas of the Democratic and Republican parties. As of now, both parties are made up of a coalition of different ideologies. For instance, socialists generally vote for the Democratic party, but the party doesn’t really represent their political beliefs. The same is true of libertarians. Although there is a libertarian party, they generally vote Republican, despite the fact that the party does not really represent their ideas. With a ranked-voting system, these ideologies can be represented.
More than ever, people are dissatisfied with the American political system. It appears to many voters that politicians care about nothing, but themselves. However, we have the chance to reform our government in a way that makes it more responsive and representative of the people. Ranked-choice voting, among many other things, has the potential to alter the system in a satisfying and effective manner.