Voters should be voting for the candidate they would like to see in office. But that’s not what happened. Instead, we were forced to play the role of political pundit, choosing the candidate most likely to win. This is a role at which even the highly paid professionals are reliably horrible. We ordinary voters, armed with our prejudices and uninformed guesses about the attitude of voters halfway across the country, are even worse at it. We are herded this way and that by a barrage of “polls,” none of which is based on a truly random (and therefore, representative) sample of the population. Then there’s the money race: money equals electability. And then there’s “airtime.” Whoever the media moguls choose to favor with the most free airtime must be the most electable.
In the end, heavily influenced by dubious information about our fellow voters, we vote on the wrong question: “Who can win?” vs “Who would you actually like to be your elected official?” The answers to these questions are often not the same.
Wouldn’t it be great to have two opportunities to vote: one in which you designate your actual favorite candidate, and a second vote, that actually counts, indicating an acceptable alternative that you think can win?
Such a system exists. It is used in many places around the world and, increasingly, in the U.S. It’s called Ranked Choice Voting. Learn about it at www.fairvote.org. And help bring that system to Washington state by going to www.fairvotewa.org.