Jim Gray: Consider ‘Approval Voting’ and ‘Ranked Choice Voting’ Options

There are two ways we all could have more Liberty in our elections. The first is called Approval Voting, and the second is called Instant Runoff elections, or Ranked Choice Voting.

Approval voting means that people could vote for all of the candidates of whom they approved for every office. That means that, for example, if there were five candidates running for an office, and a voter would be content to have any three of them win, the voter could vote for all three of those candidates. But no one could vote more than once for any particular candidate. Then all of the votes simply would be counted up, with the candidate receiving the most votes winning the election. See www.Electology.org.

In instant runoff elections, otherwise known as ranked choice voting, people could vote for their first choice, but then they would have the opportunity to vote for their second choice as well. Then all first choices from all voters would be counted. But if no candidate won 50 percent plus one vote, with a flip of a computer switch, the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated, and a second tally would be completed.

All voters who had voted for the eliminated candidate would have their second choice counted in this “runoff” election. That procedure would be continued until one candidate won a majority of the votes. See www.InstantRunoff.com.

This process is now utilized by a dozen states and cities in our country, and those people seem to be happy with it.

Both of these approaches would almost completely eliminate the “spoiler” or “lesser of two evils” issues, because people could vote their consciences. In other words, people could vote their dreams, but they could also vote against their fears.

In addition, the more radical candidates would be forced to moderate their positions, because they would have more direct information about the preferences of more of the voters. In many elections, we have actually seen numerous voters casting their votes against candidates by voting for their opponents, instead of actually voting in favor of anyone.

Both of these approaches would change that equation, which would bring more Liberty to our elections.

(Photo of voting form in the 2017 Dutch election by Sebastiaan ter Burg from Utrecht, used with permission.)

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Judge James P. Gray (Ret.) was a judge on the Superior Court of Orange County, California for 25 years, and was the running mate of Gary Johnson in the 2012 presidential contest, as well as the Libertarian Party's 2004 candidate for the United States Senate in California. The author of multiple books and a play, he is a critic of current American drug laws.

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