In Washington, state representatives, state senators, state executive offices, United States Senators, and United States House of Representatives are elected by plurality voting. Further, gerrymandering maintains “safe seats”-— all but ensuring that voters have little say in election outcomes. Nevertheless, Washington demonstrates support for election reform. For example, in 2018, Governor Inslee signed a bill providing automatic voter registration when eligible voters receive driver’s licenses or state identification cards. The state also generally conducts elections by mail and allows voters to register online.
Limited polling indicates that Washington is fairly split three ways between those opposed to ranked choice voting, those supportive of the policy, and those unaware of ranked choice voting. Thus, there is an opportunity to expand grassroots efforts through voter education and outreach for community support.
FairVote Washington’s strategy is two-fold–including milestones for legislative and campaign agendas. This year the group is focused on passing ranked choice voting in Clark and San Juan counties, where ballot initiatives to adopt ranked choice voting will be voted on in November. In addition, the organization is focusing on passing three pieces of state level legislation: ranked choice voting local options ranked choice voting as a State Voting Rights Act remedy; and ranked choice voting for presidential primaries. The local options bill is crucial in allowing more cities and counties to pass and implement ranked choice voting. Support for these policies would allow voters not to feel pressure to vote strategically and provide more people with a meaningful voice in the election outcome.
Executive Director Lisa Ayrault and experienced campaign manager Stephanie Houghton lead FairVote Washington. The organization serves as a central hub for local campaigns and, eventually, statewide campaigns. The organization is advised by many thought leaders–including former lawmakers, community stakeholders, and business leaders.
Ranked choice voting is a commonsense change that gives voters the option to rank candidates for office in the order of preference. 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 more choice, voice, and power when they cast their ballots, eliminates the “spoiler effect,” and helps guarantee that elected leaders are elected with majority support.