Policy Market Blog

Instant Runoff Voting Now, Please

Martin Kennedy - Thursday, September 12, 2019
A Problem with an Easy Solution
Election Day in Nashville (mayor and a handful of council seats that went to a runoff).  It's estimated to cost $600 thousand. 

The true cost is far higher.  The $600 thousand figure doesn’t include the cost to the throngs of voters who have to, in less than two months, schlep back to the polls to cast their ballots (or run them through the scanner).

Solution:  Instant-Runoff or Ranked Choice Voting would not only lower costs but give us better elected officials... because it maximizes voter utility.  
Currently, in a multi--candidate election with low turnout, the trick is to appeal to an enthusiastic cohort of voters.  Candidates, behaving rationally, take extreme positions, posture, and engage in demagoguery 
With Ranked-Choice voting, the trick is to appeal broadly.  The (instant) winner is that candidate who maximizes the electorate’s utility, not necessarily the candidate who gets the most first place votes.  Voters don't need to vote strategically--"I really like candidate X but she won't win and I don't want candidate Y to win. Therefore, I'm going to vote for candidate Z, who has a better chance of winning."  
Nashville Metro Council nearly passed Ranked Choice Voting.  God willing and the creek don’t rise, they'll get er' done next term. 

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