by Geri Koblis, for the Racial Justice Ministry
If you have ever taken an online quiz or survey which presents multiple choice answers and asks you to fill in a number to indicate your most important choice to your least, you have done Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). In some states such as New Jersey, this is also called Instant Runoff. Most of us are beyond tired of the chasm in our country which has stamped, labeled and spit us out as either liberal vs. conservative, Democrat vs. Republican. We understand that we are more complex than those labels. We get that such identity politics are a calculated design which effectively keeps people in confusion and conflict for the benefit of those with self-serving agendas. These agendas include advancing policies that benefit white supremacy racism. One such policy is voter suppression, particularly for voters of color.
One possible antidote to the problems presented by a duopoly two-party system is the implementation of RCV in elections. According to a May 2021 report published by Fair Vote (Rank Choice Voting Elections Benefits Candidates of Color), key findings show that communities of color benefit from RCV. You can read a summary and download the report here.
RCV is both studied and tested. Fair Vote reports that as of June 2022, just in the U.S., 55 cities, counties and states are projected to use this mechanism for all voters in their next election. RCV is used in at least six other countries. In addition to the problems of polarization and unfair representation among people of color, RCV counteracts the problems of gerrymandering, skewed primary elections and voter disenfranchisement. It gives voters more choices and a greater sense of having a voice in a vote.
Our UU 8th Principle covenants us to work to build a diverse, multicultural Beloved Community by actions to dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions. Fair and equitable voting representation for people of color within our election processes is imperative to dismantling racist policies. We can act by supporting laws and methods that encourage and protect equal representation and combat voter suppression which targets voters of color.
Through the nonprofit organization, Voter Choice New Jersey, we are pursuing a strategy where RCV starts in our towns and cities and works its way up to our State and Federal elections. Local initiatives like this can also be most responsive to voters of color. Town and city council meetings provide forums for these constituents to be directly heard. Look here for more information on our RCV plan.