Washington State Youth Legislature passes RCV
My name’s Phil Gardner, and I’m the newly elected Governor of the Washington YMCA Youth and Government program. Youth and Government is a statewide organization of more than 400 high school teens that every May come down to Olympia and simulate our State Legislature. We have a House, Senate, press, lobbyist corp, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and of course, Governor.
Every May we elect our major officers (Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, Secretary of State) by popular vote and then those elected serve in their positions the next May. Throughout Youth and Government history we have used a simple first-past-the-post system whereby the candidate that receives the most votes is declared elected.
This has lead to a major problem in the program. In order to become a candidate for statewide office, you must first win the nomination of one of the five districts. What this leads to is a situation whereby those candidates from larger districts know more voters before the statewide event in May occurs, and thus candidates from smaller districts are at an automatic disadvantage. Also, because of the large number of candidates, it’s very difficult for any candidate to receive a majority of the vote.
This year I ran on a platform of instituting Ranked Choice Voting for our major officer elections as a remedy to this problem. The bill to institute this system passed the Youth House unanimously and the Youth Senate with only one Nay vote. Under this new system, we are now able to elect consensus and unity candidates for and from all of Washington State.
During my four years in this program I’ve talked about Ranked Choice Voting with hundreds of teens, and have rarely found one opposed. The youth of Washington State are fully behind this more democratic system, and the future looks bright for RCV.
Mr. Gardner is finishing his junior year in high school and lives in University Place in Pierce County.
Labels: State Legislation