Cedar Rapids Mulling Interesting Voting Method for City Races
Yes, I'm old enough to remember when you knew on Election night who was going to win. Man, were those glorious times.
These days, the election cycle never ends. With so many news outlets keeping track, these things can drag on for days, weeks, or even months. And let's not even start with how early candidates start campaigning for the next one. And recounts. Oh yes, recounts! It's important to make sure the votes are counted properly and fairly.
Then there's the other somewhat new phenomenon, the plethora of candidates you see running for a particular seat. We've seen a Presidential election not so long ago where there were upwards of 20-some candidates in the hunt at one point! It makes the likelihood of one of the candidates getting the needed majority of the votes to win slimmer, and at that point, you have what's called a "run-off", which comes with a brand-new, several-weeks-long campaign of its own. Rinse, and repeat. UGH.
There's got to be a better way, and there might be. It's called "rank choice voting". It's just what it sounds like, and the city leadership of Cedar Rapids is the latest to try and adopt it, pending state legislative approval. Here's how the Cedar Rapids Gazette explains "rank-choice voting":
If a candidate receives a majority of votes in a single-seat race after all the first-choice votes are counted, then the election is over and that candidate wins. But if no one receives a majority, the person with the lowest number of first-place votes is eliminated, and that candidate's voters' second choices get redistributed as votes for other candidates. The process keeps going until one candidate wins a majority, or whatever the threshold is for a multi-seat race.
Instead of picking one candidate, you rank your preferences by filling in the oval for your first, second, third choice, and so on.
I don't know. In theory, the idea of doing a runoff election "Casey Kasem style" or in a way similar to how they rank sports teams sounds a lot more appealing than more of those endless runoff campaigns...after the original endless campaign. But you saw that word in the description, right? "Redistributed"-- always a polarizing thought. More than 40 jurisdictions are doing rank choice voting nationwide, and if Cedar Rapids decides to adopt it, it would, again, have to first be made law by the Iowa legislature. No one knows if, when, or how soon that might happen.