Many benefits will accrue once we get Internet voting. Presently, the various hacking fears and calls to go 100% paper ballots, we will eventually get there. In addition to more accurate, safe, private, and verifiable voting, a new capability called Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) will be possible.
Ranked choice voting, sometimes called instant run-off voting is an alternative method of voting which Internet voting could make possible. RCV can be used when there are more than two candidates. Instead of voting for one candidate, voters rank the candidates in order of preference, indicating first choice, second choice, third choice, etc. for as many candidates as appear on a ballot. RCV avoids split votes and counter-majoritarian outcomes.
Often, candidates can and do win election to offices like mayor or governor despite being opposed by most voters. That’s because when more than two candidates run, a majority of votes may be split among the two or more losing candidates. For example, in Maine, nine of the 11 gubernatorial elections between 1994 and 2014 were won with less than 50% of votes.
With ranked choice voting, if a candidate receives a majority of the first choice votes cast for an office, that candidate will be elected. If no candidate receives a majority of the first choice votes cast, the runoff process begins. The candidate who received the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. Next, each vote cast for the losing candidate is transferred to the voter’s next ranked choice among the remaining candidates. The elimination process continues until a candidate receives a majority and is deemed the winner. The runoff happens instantly because all the votes are digital.
Another problem addressed by ranked choice voting is gerrymandering, a process whereby an entrenched minority can redefine congressional voting districts to bias how many representatives will be selected from each party in a state. Some have referred to the process as politicians picking their voters, instead of the other way around. Both Democrat and Republican politicians have used gerrymandering. A ranked choice voting process can ensure the majority of voters will always be able to elect a majority of seats, rather than the entrenched minority ensuring they stay in office.
The strongest proponent of ranked choice voting is FairVote, a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which seeks to make democracy fair, functional, and more representative. It conducts research and proposes common sense changes to strengthen our democracy. FairVote believes democracy is strongest when more voices are heard. Ranked choice voting, where more than two candidates compete without fear of splitting the vote, ensures all voices are heard and every vote counts in every election. Read all about Ranked Choice Voting in Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy.