This reform could have saved a million ballots | Three Things Thursday
Happy March! We’re five days into the month and already my head is spinning.
We’ve got a big post-Super Tuesday Three Things for you, so let’s get right to it.
Here are this week’s Three Things to think about.
One person, one vote. Makes sense, right? But what if the candidate you voted for dropped out after you turned in your ballot? That was the situation that more than a million Americans found themselves in after the primary election in South Carolina Saturday. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out within 24 hours of each other, and less than 72 hours before than 14 states formally went to the polls for Super Tuesday.
Across the country, more than a million voters had already voted early or absentee. If they voted for Klobuchar or Buttiegieg, their votes were effectively wasted with no recourse to have their voices heard.
It’s an unfortunate side-effect of the volatile primary season -- but one with a simple solution: ranked choice voting. As our own Tyler Fisher explains this week, by instituting ranked choice voting in our elections, we can enfranchise more voters with election results that are more reflective of voter preference. Even if your favorite candidate drops out, RCV ensures that your voice will still be heard on Election Day.
That’s exactly what one man in Texas had to do, waiting until 1 AM to finally cast his vote. While we should all applaud this man’s commitment to voting, that he was made to wait at all should be a serious concern for those who want to make our system more representative.
Whether it was faulty machines in LA, closed polling places around Houston, or the devastating tornado that hit Nashville, voting simply wasn’t possible for many in Super Tuesday states yesterday. We simply can’t have representative elections if huge swaths of the population are being discouraged from voting. Not everyone can wait seven hours in line, even if they wanted to. (It’s worth noting that the Texas voter was late to his night shift as a result).
Instead, we need to be instituting reforms that can make voting more accessible, more convenient, and more secure. It’s why we support vote by mail, which allows individuals to simply drop off their ballot on election day, without having to wait in line.
Virginia legislators are in the final days of their legislative session, and have yet to approve the bipartisan legislation to create a constitutional amendment establishing independent redistricting in the state.
This week, legislators in the bipartisan Commonwealth Caucus wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post calling on their colleagues to pass the legislation. “The constitutional amendment and redistricting commission would establish the clearest, fairest and least political mechanism for drawing fair districts in Virginia’s 400-year legislative history,” they write.
The time is now. If Virginians want a shot at fair maps ahead of the 2021 redistricting, legislators must pass the amendment. A constitutional amendment is the only way to ensure that future politicians don’t interfere with Virginians right to a fair vote.