Out of state billionaires have been influencing Arkansas elections to receive massive tax breaks and to deregulate the industries they own in order to maximize profits at the cost of fair Arkansas elections. Ranked choice voting is not about changing the way a state votes, or voters think, it is about giving voters the opportunity to vote for the candidate they prefer over a lesser of two evils. By using ranked choice voting we will not alter the way our representatives are an extension of our voices, but the way that we choose them. Billionaires have perfected the method in which to buy the politicians and have not stopped purchasing as many out of state legislators as they possibly can with their unlimited amounts of dark money.“We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years. We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more” – David Koch. Our government should not be for sale to the highest bidder, it should be by the people, FOR the people.
One way we can combat the corruption that out of state funding has brought to Arkansas, and our country, is ranked choice voting. This will not abolish the election system, but make it easier by ranking the candidates in order of preference. Simply put, this gives you more control over the election process and the choice to finally vote for the candidate that you believe will best represent you, no matter their opponents. With so many people hearing “ranked choice voting” for the first time I feel we should go over exactly what it is.
When the founding fathers designed our elections, there were no political parties. It was a simple task, vote for the person you want to represent you, and the most votes wins. Today it is much more difficult to vote for the candidate you choose. First there is a primary, in which political parties’ candidates face off against each other. This process, as we have seen many times in the past, can be rigged so that the party chooses their candidate, effectively taking your choice away altogether. In order to cast your vote for the candidate you choose in a primary you must register to be a member of that party, unless you live in one of the 15 states that have open primaries. After the two major parties’ primaries have been completed, they will each have one candidate to face off in the November general election. There are also third-party candidates. The third-party candidates are required to gather signatures from their presumptive electorate to gain access to the ballots for the November general election. This process is much more costly, time consuming, difficult, and even unconstitutional, as the requirement does not exist in the constitution that a candidate must obtain signatures from constituents to have the opportunity to represent them. Finally, after the two major parties’ primary process and third parties’ efforts to gain ballot access, the people have a choice to have their voices heard in November. Arkansans are comfortable with the current system because it is all we have ever known. It has been used for hundreds of years to suppress our options and it is time that we fight to have a true democracy.
Alas, billionaires are fighting to continue the system of oppression that has been used against us for too long. They know that it is much more difficult to bribe four candidates than it is to bribe two. Ranked choice voting is not an experiment: it has been tried and found true. By giving Arkansans a four-way ranked vote, it will allow them to have more control over the voting process. If ranked choice voting were to pass in Arkansas, we would join the 23 other states that have already expanded their citizens’ voting rights. This would greatly enhance your choice, and voice, while voting in November.
How ranked choice voting works: During a vote you will have the option to mark the person you want to vote for as 1, then up to three others as 2, 3, 4. When the votes are counted if no candidate has more than 50 percent of the total votes, the candidate with the lowest amount of votes is eliminated. Whoever votes for the candidate that was eliminated will then have their vote go to the person they ranked as 2. Those votes will now be removed from the eliminated candidate and reallocated to the three remaining candidates. Now if one of the three remaining candidates has more than 50 percent of the total votes cast, they are elected. If no candidate has over 50 percent then the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated, and the candidates ranked 2 for the eliminated candidate will be reallocated. If you find any of this explanation complicated, please follow the link at the beginning of this paragraph to watch a video explaining ranked choice voting.
Ranked choice voting is not a partisan power grab, it is the people’s power grab. It gives us the choice to choose a candidate, even if we think they may lose, while choosing a second candidate we may not like but may be more likely to win an election. We must be wary of attempts to discredit the nationwide movement towards ranked choice voting, such as submissions of bad legislation under the ranked choice name. Ranked choice voting is not about getting rid of primaries, and it should not be. It is about giving the people more control over an election in which billionaires have spent billions to purchase and silence our voices.
There are a few individuals that are worried that ranked choice voting may mean there will be up to four candidates in a general election and that is because they fear having competition. These same individuals spend money and use their elected position to try and make it so that our November ballots will only have one option, them.
Dan Whitfield is an independent candidate for United States Senate, running in opposition to Sen. Tom Cotton. Follow him on Twitter at @DanWhitCongress.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in op-eds are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Arkansas Money & Politics or About You Media Group.