Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ranked choice voting: Pick-a-party primary replacement

If the top-2 primary is officially pronounced dead by the US Supreme Court, ranked choice voting will become the logical replacement for the unpopular pick-a-party primary. Pierce County's new ranked choice election system will become the role model for the state.

The US Supreme Court is due to announce its decision soon on the legality of the top-2 primary system passed by Washington state voters. The Democratic and Republican parties sued the state to have the top-2 declared illegal and won. The state and the Grange have appealed the case all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Ranked choice voting, as being implemented in Pierce County, can be thought of as a "blanket general" election. All candidates earn a place on the general election ballot with the same number of signatures, regardless of party. The parties are given the right to determine which candidates can use their party label on the ballot, thus allowing ranked choice voting to meet the legal hurdles previously set out by the Supreme Court.

In a ranked choice general election, voters are allowed to list their first, second and third choices for each race. These choices can be made for any candidate, any party. In this way, ranked choice voting is like our old blanket primary.



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