Sept 22, 2023
Perspective by Luke Hilgemann
As Wisconsin considers adopting ranked choice voting (RCV), it is crucial to examine the potential pitfalls of this system. While proponents argue that RCV promotes diversity and eliminates the “waste” of votes on third-party candidates, the experiences of Alaska, San Francisco, and Oakland suggest otherwise. Instead, RCV has eroded voter confidence, skewed election results, and pushed the political landscape further towards liberal progressivism, undermining the principles of freedom and democracy.
In Alaska, the introduction of RCV in 2020 has led to widespread confusion and disillusionment among voters. The complexity of the system, which requires voters to rank candidates in order of preference, has proven to be a significant barrier to participation. Many Alaskans have expressed frustration at the lack of clarity in the voting process, leading to a decline in voter confidence. This is not the hallmark of a robust democratic system, which should strive for simplicity and accessibility to ensure every citizen can participate fully and confidently.
San Francisco’s experience with RCV has been similarly problematic. Since its implementation in 2004, RCV has consistently produced results that do not reflect the will of the majority. In several instances, candidates who did not receive the most first-choice votes ended up winning elections, leading to questions about the legitimacy of the outcomes. This has not only eroded voter confidence but also pushed the city’s politics further towards the left, as RCV tends to favor candidates with more extreme positions.
Oakland’s experience with RCV has been no different. The 2010 mayoral election saw Jean Quan win despite receiving fewer first-choice votes than her opponent, Don Perata. This result, a product of RCV’s redistribution of votes, left many voters feeling disenfranchised and questioning the fairness of the system. Moreover, the election’s outcome has contributed to a shift towards liberal progressivism in Oakland’s political landscape, marginalizing moderate voices.
The experiences of Alaska, San Francisco, and Oakland serve as cautionary tales for Wisconsin. RCV, while seemingly democratic in theory, has proven to be confusing, divisive, and conducive to political extremism in practice. It undermines the principle of majority rule, a cornerstone of our democratic system, and pushes politics towards the fringes, away from the moderate center where most Americans find themselves.
Wisconsin should think twice before adopting a system that has eroded voter confidence and skewed political landscapes elsewhere. Instead, we should strive to uphold the principles of freedom and democracy that our nation was built upon, ensuring that every vote counts and that the will of the majority prevails.