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Maine, Support RCV! (Ranked Choice Voting)

October 3, 2016

Some good news at one of the corners. This year, Maine has a ballot initiative to implement Ranked Choice Voting [wiki] (aka Instant Runoff Voting).

This is *exactly* what needs to happen to avoid the huge national embarrassment that is the current Clinton-Trump election. Maine residents, please vote yes on Question 5 this year!,_Question_5_(2016)

See also: Proportional Representation [wiki]                    Jill Stein 2016!


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  1. While I think RCV is probably a good idea, I fear it may run afoul of the One Man, One Vote doctrine on a Federal Level.

    • How do you figure that? Each person’s vote still gets counted exactly once, no more, no less. The difference is if your “first choice” is mathematically eliminated, each person is allowed a second choice and so forth.

      The intent of One man, One vote was to have proportional representation, which is a differnet issue, and actually another important deficiency of the US model of representation, as well understood on a mathematical level (if not yet on a legal level). There are several issues. For one thing, congressional districts vary from something like 500k to 900k in population, thanks to the 14th amendment. In addition to that, proportional representation is mathematically impossible with single-seat districting (see wikipedia article on proportional representation).

      • (Sorry for the delay).

        My concern as to whether RCV would survive a Constitutional Challenge is based on discussing this with some other attorneys. The general consensus is the Supreme Court would be very leery about allowing any sort of voting regime that could be seen as diluting the voting power of minorities. The “one man, one vote” doctrine adopted by SCOTUS has allowed gerrymandered districts all in the name of ensuring the right to vote. (This also why there are Congressional Districts. There is nothing in the US Constitution, either Art I sec of the 14th Amendment, requires districts.). Anything that could even dilute minority voting rights will be tossed.

        Among the concerns would be if a minority candidate was the highest ranking candidate among the possible choice and still lose be s/he was not the second (or third, etc.) choice of voters. The other possibility would be the minority candidate is actually the preferred by a majority of voters but not in the right sequence to allow him/her to prevail. A third possibility would be attempts at strategic voting to prevent a minority candidate from being elected.

        Another concern is the possibility of confusion in the voter as to how s/he is supposed to vote when presented with a multiple-multiple choice.

        (As an aside, I disagree with SCOTUS’s decision to vacate the decision in Clemons v. Dept of Commerce and have the matter dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Clemons brought the case arguing, in essence the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929 was unconstitutional because it created such widely disparate Congressional Districts. The lower Courts had ruled against Clemons, saying Congress had the authority and it would have been useful for the Supreme Court to weigh in. Instead, it punted and created a situation where it would be impossible for anyone to challenge the law).

        Again, I like the idea of RCVs and there are valid counter arguments to everything I’ve mentioned above. But the history suggests the Federal Court and SCOTUS would err on the side of caution.

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