Election and Voting Rights reforms

I wasn’t sure what thread this would go in, but it seems like with everything that’s been happening with the current election, it might be worth giving the idea it’s own thread, since I can imagine (and hope!) that a lot of reform is forthcoming.

Anyway, what prompted it was this article:

I loved being able to use RCV here in Maine (even if it still didn’t result in Gideon beating Collins :( ) and would love to see it rolled out in every state. That fact that residents of a red state have now voted for it gives me hope.

That is good news. Weirdly I believe MA rejected it.

I’d love to see along with this more automatic voter registration and mail in systems like OR and CO.

RCV, automatic voter registration, and passing that “abolish the EC” pact in enough states would go a long way toward making things in the US only somewhat terrible

Well the newly elected Secretary of State of Oregon, Shemiya Fagan, had expanding RCV statewide as one of here campaign issues. The progressive party candidate had it as a tentpole.

I intend to monitor and nudge her about actually following through. Her office will be receiving communications from me about this once the new session starts, I can promise.

And automatic voter registration expansion is also on the list. Oregon already has motor voter laws with automatic registration when you get your license (you can opt out), so the framework is already in place.

I want open primaries along with ranked choice. Washington State has open primaries with top two going to the general. I would like to believe this would give 3rd parties a better shot rather than being a footnote on the general election.

I think open primaries / top two advance almost guarantees a single major party lock on elected office in many states. You’re going to have a lot of states where the top two candidates from the primary are from the same party, and that will be your choice in the general. I voted against a Florida ballot proposal for this for exactly that reason. Have I gotten that wrong?

I think the ranked choice part of the suggestion fixes your issue.

I also voted against that measure on the Florida ballot.

I don’t see how. It could sometimes make the difference, but it’s hardly guaranteed to do that.

Open primaries / top two only advance strikes me as a way to kill minority parties, not to help them succeed.

I’m not sure I understand how a party that can’t get 33% of the vote in an open primary is expected to win the general anyway.

They might not have much chance, but if they can’t get on the ballot they have no chance at all.

What problem is top-2 open primaries supposed to solve?

Until we have more examples, and many elections under our belt, I think it’s all speculation, but saying that here’s my reasoning:

Open Primaries
I, like many other people, have never registered for a particular party. I hate voting in the general for people I didn’t help select in the primary. I feel disenfranchised from the get-go. “Oh, here are two candidates we selected you get to choose from” Open primaries solves that problem by letting people like me vote in the primaries.

Ranked Choice
I think most people like this option where you specify the order you prefer candidates. I would think this would drive more centrists because the fringe elements of both the left and the right would infrequently get the most of the votes. I also believe that this will help 3rd party candidates as the Democrats and Republicans would hopefully vote for the 3rd party in the second place.

Top Two Advance
Combined with open primaries, this general would turn into a run off between two people. Force the 3rd parties into the primaries.

I think the three of these together have a real shot at giving 3rd parties a real platform. From my perspective, Ranked choice should have the greatest impact on 3rd parties, but I don’t think Maine’s experiment is bearing fruit as of yet.

Open primaries allows people who don’t register for a specific party an opportunity to vote in the primaries. I would like to think there is 3rd party support that would be more evident in the primaries with this constituency.

Again, I think this is all a great experiment and I would hope that people will be open to these because the way we have it today produces the left of the left and the right of the right. Combined, these types of changes can produce more centrist candidates who appeal to a broader subset of people and I sincerely hope give 3rd parties more of an opportunity to be heard.

The reasoning behind a jungle primary (as opposed to just an open primary where you can participate without registering, but the primary still selects a particular party’s nominee) is to encourage people using RCV to ignore party when choosing. That is, to encourage the idea of a centrist voter choosing, say, Biden as their first pick, Kasich as their second pick, Buttigieg as their third pick, etc.

One of the problems with this is that you still need to run a rather strong campaign as a third party to not be crowded out and have your vote transferred to someone else. Proportional representation would be a better way to boost third parties, specifically.

The real value, though, is allowing a primary challenge or prominent third party run to make a serious attempt even in a less-solid district, without necessarily costing the party the election.

For me the disconnect has always been that a primary isn’t a general public election, it’s a party activity designed to let party members choose party candidates. That people who are not party members can’t vote in closed party primaries is, to me, a feature, not a bug. If you want to choose the party candidate, join the party. If you are not a member of the party, you should not be able to choose the party candidate.

I’m certainly in favor of ranked choice in any election, but that’s a separate matter from whether a primary should be open, or whether a general election should be restricted to just two candidates. If anything, having ranked choice voting in a general election obviates the need to restrict the election to only two candidates.

As for the combo of open primary / top two only advance with ranked choice, I think the most likely outcome is further polarization. Red states will generally advance the two most conservative candidates. Blue states will advance the two most liberal ones. Swing states will advance a muddle. What does that mean to ballot access across the nation? I have no idea.

The argument for a runoff instead of just declaring an RCV winner in a jungle primary is that with many candidates in the primary you don’t get a chance to really consider the horse race between the final two. Also, for a lot of people those two might have been near the bottom of their list of preferences and their choice between them is therefore not very reliable as an indicator of their actual preference.

Yes, I understand. But when every general election ballot in e.g. Oklahoma features only 2 candidates, both Republicans, I’m not going to think that’s a good outcome. And that sort of thing is going to happen.

The reason I would like to see ranked voting (but not open primaries, for fear of one-party tickets that could overcome this benefit) is the primary attraction of that system to begin with: that you can end up with a winner that people across the spectrum liked. Maybe not as much as their first choice, but still someone they are invested in and would accept. Given how totally polarized we are right now, this would give me hope for a more functional democracy.

Lopsided elections would still be a foregone conclusion, but close-ish elections would not automatically result in half the population feeling adversarial towards the winner right from the start. Provided that there was a good 3rd candidate (obviously not guaranteed).

This is how a lot of Republicans feel in some parts of CA now.

edit: Not disagreeing with you at all, just commenting that it’s not a theoretical concern.

How is that terribly meaningfully different than current though? Even with each party having one candidate in the general, it is already a foregone conclusion for many districts.

Or take the districts I’ve lived in. At the end of the day the general election is a formality. Hell my old district in Illinois, the last time I voted there, literally had an actual literal Nazi as the republican candidate running against the shitty dem candidate (Dan Lipinski). As shitty as Lipinski was, it was a foregone conclusion. While a top 2 primary finish with RCV could have had the election between a terrible dem, and a perhaps decent one. I’d have preferred that choice for sure.

That said the jungle or top 2 primary, without RCV? Hard pass for me.

Also Illinois had open primaries, with no party registration required. That’s not such a big deal, but to vote you had to select either democrat or republican primary to vote in, so there was a soft party affiliation.

Sure, but a different outcome is at least possible. General election ballots with candidates of only one party on them are massively anti-democratic.

Yeah, that works, but there is a part of me that thinks it’s wrong nonetheless. Why should people unwilling to join my party choose my party’s candidate?

Because ultimately those people would be chosen to represent all of their constituents, and having a broader base it tends to diminish the extremist elements, and reach more broadly supported candidates for the general, especially since non party members are ultimately important to actually winning said general.

I’d be curious what the result of an analysis on party extremism and candidate alignment was based on states with open versus closed primaries. My gut level reaction is I suspect that closed primary states tend to have more extreme swings, such as the guy running for Oregon AG on the Republican side literally being the guy (not a lawyer either) who was organizing possies to create armed road blocks during the Oregon wildfires, threatening people driving through certain areas with automatic weapons and accusing them of being Antifa terrorists intentionally setting fires.