Since many valley cities have had their primaries in September, a number of them might be conducting runoff elections. My city (Phoenix, Arizona) is having one high profile race in which incumbent Councilmember Sal DiCiccio and challenger Dana Marie Kennedy are squaring off for a second time to represent City Council District 6.
This after 2 other opponents were eliminated in a 4-way race. Yet neither DiCiccio nor Kennedy obtained a sufficient amount of votes needed for either to win.
Now Phoenix taxpayers have to shell out hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to conduct a seperate election for District 6 voters to decide on November 3rd if either Sal DiCiccio or Dana Kennedy will occupy their district's council seat. Had Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) been used in Phoenix elections, a separate runoff election for District 6 would not have been needed and saved city taxpayers money since this voting method’s runoff is instant.
I have learned from someone like-minded on this issue, lives in DiCiccio's district and approached him about RCV. To his credit, the Councilmember is interested in this idea and stated he would like to initiate a study of Ranked Choice Voting of some kind.
Ranked Choice Voting is an arrangement where a voter can rank each candidate for a specific office on a ballot in order of their preference. As opposed to the plurality, or winner take all voting method in which a voter can vote for only one candidate per category.
The procedure eliminates the need for seperate runoff campaigns (which can be costly) and in municipalities that use it, candidates no longer conduct negative campaigns. As a result, RCV can contribute to increased voter participation since people running for office no longer need to campaign using soundbites or attack-oriented advertising against their opponents that can disaffect voters and deter potential campaign volunteers.
The group furthering the idea of RCV and supporting efforts to enact this voting method is the Center for Voting and Democracy based out of Takoma Park, Maryland. The CVD's website has an abundant amount of information and resources about this issue and they were instrumental in helping the Glendale Prop 404 campaign that I participated last year in with much of the information and literature our campaign used.
The center's website is also awash with the latest news about efforts across the country to implement Ranked Choice Voting in which interest in this idea has increased since 2002 when San Francisco started using it for the city's Council races.
In addition to municipalities starting to use it or consider RCV as a manner for voters to cast ballots, private organizations are even utilizing this mechanism for elections of officers or to make decisions on internal affairs.
For example, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences just announced that a Ranked Choice Voting arrangement will be used when ballots are cast by its members to decide which movie will be given the Best Picture Oscar for next year's Academy Awards.
In 2006, the Maricopa County Libertarian Party used Ranked Choice Voting to elect its state committeemen to represent the county party at the Arizona L.P.'s 2007 convention. And in 2008, Arizona Libertarians used RCV for a non-binding Presidential Straw Poll the AZLP held on the internet. Doing so allowed the party to, on principle, opt out of the taxpayer funded state wide Presidential primary held at the time.
Like I said earlier, I participated in an effort to enact RCV by referendum in Glendale, Arizona in 2008. Unfortunately, the campaign to change Glendale's charter went down in flames at the ballot box. However, Proposition 404 wasn't rejected because Glendale voters opposed it. Rather it was that the pro-404 organization didn't have the manpower to conduct a coordinated, vigorous effort to educate people about the issue which would have made passage of Prop 404 more likely.
Despite its defeat in Glendale, I am optimistic that Ranked Choice Voting can and will be enacted in Arizona and across the country. Not only because it saves money, but RCV enables voters to cast votes for candidates that best represent their views and not for fear that a candidate they oppose could get elected due to a potential spoiler effect when more than 2 candidates run for office.
The more pressure applied and publicity given, the more the leaders of the municipality you live in will make RCV a reality. If not now, certainly down the line. The initiative and referendum process and lobbying elected officials to enact it along with even sending letters to the editor of local newspapers can help bring RCV about.
Please contact your local, state and even federal representatives today (especially if you live in Phoenix) and urge them to implement Ranked Choice Voting or please support RCV in some manner.
Ranked Choice Voting is an issue whose time has come.