An innovative effort in Wisconsin would establish “Final-Five Voting” for all federal elections. Final-Five Voting combines two powerful electoral reforms: top-five nonpartisan primaries with ranked choice voting general elections.
In a top-five primary, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in the same primary where all voters are allowed to participate. The system encourages candidates to appeal to all of their constituents, not just those on the ideological extreme who tend to participate in party primaries. The system also promotes competition of candidates and ideas by allowing for a more comprehensive field in the general election, when voter participation is higher.
Ranked choice voting is a common sense change that gives voters the option to rank candidates for office in the order they prefer them. If no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes that candidate received count instantly towards the next choice on those voters’ ballots. That process repeats until a candidate receives a majority of the vote and wins.
Ranked choice voting gives voters a stronger voice and more choice when they cast their ballots, eliminates the “spoiler effect,” and helps guarantee that elected leaders are supported by a true majority.
In their book, The Politics Industry, How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy, Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter make the case for top-five primaries this way:
“While there is no perfect number, we believe top-five is optimal for three main reasons. First, the additional slots in the general election make it highly unlikely that a minority party will capture all five spots. Second, top five ensures that more voters are likely to have a choice they support come November. Third, more choice means more competition, for candidates and ideas, and more competitions means more elected officials who are more accountable to citizens -- and more accountability in an industry means better results…Most importantly, the top-five approach alters the calculus for legislators. They know they won’t automatically lose their seat if they vote yes on a bipartisan landmark bill that violates party orthodoxy. The party-primary eye of the needle, through which no problem-solving can pass, is eliminated.”
Chaired by national democracy innovation leader, Katherine Gehl, and Milwaukee business leader Austin Rameriz, Democracy Found is explicitly focused on advancing Final Five voting in Wisconsin. Their advisory board consists of business and community leaders from across the ideological spectrum. The organization is led by Executive Director Sara Eskrich.