Ranked-choice voting is on your ballot this year and, Seattle voters, we have a choice. We can stick with the status quo, or we can vote “Yes” to upgrade our elections with Proposition 1B for ranked-choice voting. I’m encouraging all of my friends in Seattle to vote Yes for change and Yes for ranked-choice voting.
Why do we need to upgrade? It’s simple.
Our city is lucky to have plenty of good people willing to step up and run for office. Just a few years ago, we had 21 candidates for Seattle mayor. This is great. It means that voters have many qualified candidates to choose from. However, it also means that the candidates who make it through the primary might only have needed a sliver of support to win. This isn’t so great.
The result? Candidates cater to a small, sometimes polarized base of support that they know will turn out for them. And as a voter, I’m stuck trying to find reasons for why I should pick one talented candidate over another potentially great candidate. Then I have to make the calculations as to who can win, rather than demonstrating support for someone who aligns with my own values.
With ranked-choice voting and Proposition 1B, we can put these problems behind us. In Seattle, Proposition 1B is endorsed by the League of Women Voters, the Northwest Progressive Institute, the Washington Conservation Voters, and 30 other community groups, including our organization, the King County Democrats, who want to see democracy thrive.
Ranked-choice voting is already used in over 50 places across the country, and places that use it see that voters love it, candidates spend more time talking about the issues, and people of color have an easier time electing their candidates of choice. The Sightline Institute was right when they called ranked-choice voting a “battle-tested” reform.
Some are questioning the need for change in Seattle. Not me. I talk to voters, I listen to voters, and I don’t hear anyone saying that there’s no need for change. Whether people feel unrepresented or are simply overwhelmed by the attack ads and negativity—ranked-choice voting is the solution we’ve been looking for.
Voters who get to use ranked-choice voting engage with it. They like the ranking system, it makes them want to participate in the process. They say it is simple to use and they want to use it again.
Candidates talk a big game about not wanting to go negative, but the current system forces them to do it over and over again. Ranked-choice voting is a breath of fresh air because it actively discourages divisiveness. A candidate hoping to be ranked second by a voter isn’t going to go after that voter’s first choice. This isn’t about some pie-in-the-sky theory—New York City saw candidates in the same race campaigning together, rather than attacking one another.
But Proposition 1A is also on the ballot. What is that? In short, it’s a bad idea. It’s untested, it’s unproven, it’s not the right choice for Seattle. Sure, you can vote for as many candidates as you like, but do you really want to? Each vote you cast will dilute your support for your favorite. That just doesn’t work well for voters, which is probably why ranked-choice voting is the far more widely used voting method.
Ranked-choice voting is our ticket to a better way of doing things. It allows voters to fully express support for the candidates they like without potential blowback. It elects candidates with broad support from the electorate, and it helps candidates move away from polarizing tactics to actually focus on the issues.
And if you had the opportunity to improve our elections, to try something new that might enfranchise more people and lead to better coalition-building around who we choose to lead us, wouldn’t you want to give it a chance? I know that I would.
Let’s move away from divisive politics. Let’s put the politics of the “lesser evil” behind us. It’s time for an upgrade.
Let’s join the statewide and nationwide movement for ranked-choice voting and show that better elections are possible. Seattle is ready for change. I hear it when I talk to voters, I hear it when I talk to candidates. This system isn’t working, we need change. Ranked-choice voting is the solution we need. November 8 is your last day to fill your ballot.
I hope you’ll join me in voting Yes on 1 and Yes on Proposition 1B.