Reforming Elections in California
Written by Kendrick Foster, Brandon Martinez, Esteban Gutierrez, Pablo Rasmussen, Nicholas Silva, & Helen Simpson
California is at the center of massive local electoral system change. Lawsuits and activist efforts have reformed dozens of city and school boards’ voting rules to elect representatives. Most have reformed because of legal threats under the California Voting Rights Act. This is a law that tries to boost minority representation in many California communities where it does not exist.
But all these new rules have a fundamental flaw. That is, they focus on one good aspect of electoral systems, to the detriment of many others. Some systems guarantee that democratic majorities can win a majority of seats. However, they also block minorities from having any ability to govern. Meanwhile, some systems guarantee minority voters representation, but they also let extremists into power easily, and give the majority less than they deserve. And furthermore, some give organized, powerful parties an advantage. Still, that means voters lose out on hearing from new, independent voices in their community.
In Voters Choose’s report “Reforming Elections in California,” our team shows how the Rank and Add voting method promotes representation and competition in its many forms.
Rank and Add follows three easy steps:
- Voters rank a set of candidates (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.)
- Each ranking gets a point value (1, 1/2, 1/3, etc.)
- The points add up and give you the winner(s).
The benefits of Rank and add
Rank and Add is simple and easy to use. It lets people from all backgrounds, ideologies and places choose all the candidates they like.
First, it protects minority rights to representation. They can decide to vote primarily for one candidate, and organizations can design the rules to ensure they will win.
At the same time, it encourages every candidate to work for their votes. Lower rankings can have a big impact on the outcome of the election. The best candidates will reach out to many communities for even a small amount of points.
As a result, Rank and Add also promotes “consensus majorities.” That means winning candidates tend to earn the support of much more than half of all voters.
Moreover, Rank and Add levels the playing field between organized groups and independents. Independents can win both through many 1st place votes and through many lower rankings.
Above all, Rank and Add benefits voters. Their votes create campaigns that are positive, transparent, and effective at turning out more people to vote and participate in politics.
We hope you read our report, and that it inspires you to learn more about Rank and Add and join Voters Choose.