Are you tired of being forced into making binary choices? Consider these divisive issues. Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Do you support Biden or Trump? For whom do you fan, BYU or BSU? This type of yes or no, up or down, forced choice response leaves many wanting to opt out. Perhaps that is what is wrong with our election system. We are constantly being asked to make dichotomous choices which do not resemble the world in which we live.
These thoughts attended me as I voted earlier this week. Why is it that I can only make one choice, even when multiple options exist. What if our elections were more like what happens at an ice cream parlor?
Traditional elections or the “winner-takes-all” system is like being told you can only pick one flavor, and the fear of not getting what you truly desire lingers, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. The refreshing thing about the Ranked Choice Voting initiative is that it returns choice to the ballot box.
Imagine Idaho’s election system as an ice cream parlor with a wide array of flavors. Traditional elections make us choose just one scoop, and where more than two flavors (candidates) seek your vote, it is often a question of “who I don’t want to win.” We might want pistachio, but we settle for vanilla because we fear chocolate might win out. Ranked Choice Voting flips this script by allowing us to rank our flavors in order of preference. In this scenario, you can choose pistachio as your first choice, vanilla as your second, and chocolate as your third. Just like trying a new flavor without the fear of missing out, Ranked Choice Voting lets us explore a broader range of candidates without worrying about “wasting” our vote.
Ranked Choice Voting encourages candidates to appeal to a spectrum of voters, as a trendy ice cream parlor introduces new and exciting flavors. Candidates can no longer rely on party loyalties or purity tests which satisfy only extremists. Licorice, yuck!
Ranked Choice Voting is antiestablishment. It favors compromise and communication. Republican extremists in Idaho hate the idea, and so do establishment Democrats in New York.
Candidates must seek civility within a Ranked Choice system. Being a person’s second choice might be a winning strategy. Trashing one’s opponent loses votes.
The next time you consider signing the Initiative petition, think about your favorite ice cream flavor. Consider the fun of choice that flows from what might be, rather than what is given to us by default. Go ahead! Choose that new flavor just because you can.
Todd DeVries is a local mental health professional and the state committeeman for the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.