FairVote and the LWV-Arizona Support Ranked Choice Voting: In 2005, the Arizona League of Women Voters adopted a position that supports ranked choice voting systems to provide a stronger voice for the greatest number of voters. FairVote is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has long endorsed ranked choice systems and focuses on electoral reforms that would give every voter an equally meaningful vote. We believe that ranked voting methods would have a positive effect on voter participation and have great potential to reduce many of today’s electoral problems, including low turnout, negative campaigning, limited voter choice, under-representation of women and communities of color, wasted votes, uncompetitive elections, and “spoiler” problems. We are pleased that other Leagues have taken positions in favor of ranked choice voting solutions as well, including California, Washington, Minnesota and Vermont.
The Consequences of Retaining Winner-Take-All Elections: That’s why we support instant runoff voting for single-seat races, and choice voting for multi-seat races. Indeed, while Arizona has both public financing and an independent redistricting commission, these critical reforms have been insufficient at producing representative, accountable, competitive and less polarized outcomes. But that’s because the reality of single-member, winner-take-all districts is that competition and maximum voter representation are mutually exclusive. A close election means almost half of voters are unrepresented. When you factor in the natural partisan majorities that exist in every region within most states, the result is no-choice districts where one party or demographic group dominates, regardless of how you draw the lines.
Learning from the Lessons of Arizona Reforms: Since Arizona voters implemented redistricting reform in 2001, 15 of 16 U.S. House seats have been won by landslide margins of 20% or more, with five of eight races won by more than 40% last year. Despite a redistricting plan drawn by an independent commission and despite public financing of elections, not a single state senate seat changed party hands in 2005; indeed 14 of 30 were uncontested. The congressional delegation is all male despite having three open seats in 2002, and the number of women in the state legislature plunged by 8% in 2002, dropping the state from 2nd in the nation to 13th for two full election cycles. Nonpartisan districting alone did not keep the state out of court; both civil rights groups and Democrats sued the state legislative plan, leading to changes in 2004 and a suit that is still active today.
An Entertaining Way to Learn About Reform: While there is no magic bullet solution to fixing our elections, time and again the case becomes clear that ranked choice voting systems would address the root causes of many of these issues. We hope this CD-ROM will provide you with an entertaining and informative way to learn about ranked choice voting methods and why they are critical to addressing the problems facing democracy today.
Dr. Barbara Klein
Vice President, Arizona League of Women Voters
Executive Director, FairVote