Super Tuesday Captures Democrat Attention

Democrats bet on Super Tuesday results

The Super Tuesday democrat primaries and caucus events heighten the suspense and further weed out the also-rans. Fourteen states (in yellow below) will hold their presidential election primaries on March 3rd while American Samoa holds its caucus. The stakes couldn’t be higher as the candidates hope to capture enough of the 3,979 delegates to remain in the race, if not have a significant lead before the convention in July. That means around 40% of the available delegates will be up for grabs. As Matt Stevens of the New York Timessays:

[Super Tuesday is] the most important day on the Democratic primary calendar.

030220 Super Tuesday

Will any more candidates drop out of the race after Super Tuesday? If some do, who will they and their teams then support? Don’t forget to watch the monetary support that will emerge, further helping any of those remaining.

As if that’s not exciting (and confusing) enough, consider that there will be an additional 771 superdelegates added to the mix at the Democratic Convention (see Wikipedia’s explanation). There will be voting in July, too, and those superdelegates will not be able to vote in the first convention rounds (there may be several rounds) if a candidate captures at least 2,266 delegates.

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) can help

Is your head spinning yet?

Elections are complicated. There’s no denying that. Beyond the speeches and handshaking (be careful of that these days), the pure mathematics of the process can be mind-boggling. How we yearn for something simple!

You may have heard of another approach for how we can tally votes, which is called Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Fairvote.org has been successfully convincing jurisdictions to adopt the process to realize fairer and more democratic results. Check out the nifty video explaining how RCV works on their website.

Essentially, when you vote using RCV, you not only pick your favorite candidate but also rank those remaining in order of your preference. Your first choice may not win the contest but your voting sentiment for other contenders is not lost. RCV deserves our attention!

Equal Voice Voting translates popular votes best

Some have asked me if RCV competes with Equal Voice Voting (EVV), thinking that you must have either one or the other for an election. The answer is, “No. Both can be used without interfering with the other.”

The key thing to remember is that when it comes to our presidential elections, the Electoral College, established by the U.S. Constitution, remains in play. It requires that the popular votes cast by a state’s voting citizens be translated into a proportional electoral vote allocation. For example, my home state of Oregon cast 2,051,448 votes in 2016. Those votes were then translated into seven electoral votes. These seven votes are the proportion of votes Oregon receives as its proportion of the total 538 available electoral votes.

Sadly, we destroy any sense of fairness by how we translate those popular votes into electoral votes. Every state (yes, even Maine and Nebraska) use a winner-takes-all approach wherein whichever candidate wins a plurality (the most) of votes gets all of a state’s allocate electoral votes. Everyone else gets left out!

EVV makes the proportional allocation of electoral votes even more granular to further reflect how a state’s citizens really voted. For example, all seven of Oregon’s electoral votes in 2016 were won by Clinton (48.5%), though over 38% of the popular votes went to Trump. EVV would have been sensitive to the total voting sentiment and would have awarded four electoral votes to Clinton and three to Trump. It would more accurately reflect Oregon’s true voting choice.

EVV and RCV can work well together

RCV can also provide a more specific popular vote result. It would have been especially useful in 2016 to show the voting sentiments for those voting for Johnson or Stein. Translating the RCV popular voting results into electoral votes using the EVV formula would have ensured a more democratic and fair voting result than what we experienced in that election.

It should be noted, however, if there are only two candidates on the presidential ballot, then RCV would not serve to better differentiate the voting results. Usually, though, there are more than two candidates in state election ballots, so RCV may prove to be worthwhile to better serve a state’s voting citizens. The caveat for presidential elections, without delving too deeply into the mathematics, is that RCV would elicit proportional results for the top vote winning candidates. Then the RCV results would be translated into electoral votes using the EVV approach.

RCV has certainly shown to be of value to capture the multiplicity of voting sentiments. Isn’t that what we want – better representation?

Better representation is what all voting citizens want in our representative democracy. EVV and RCV, combined, can deliver a more fair and inclusive voting process. It’s time to expect it from our political parties and elected officials.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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