Our election system is deeply flawed, and we see the symptoms of it every day: toxic partisanship, mudslinging, and voter frustration over so-called ‘strategic voting’ and ‘wasted’ votes.

 

Ranked-choice voting (RCV) is a simple upgrade to the way we vote: it empowers voters to always vote for their favorite candidate first, encourages robust participation from candidates and voters alike, and guarantees the winning candidate has the support of a majority of voters. From Australia to Ireland, San Francisco to New York City, millions of voters across the globe have experienced the benefits of RCV. 

 

So how do we get ranked-choice voting here in New Jersey? 

 

Voter Choice New Jersey has a vision to get ranked-choice voting in place for all New Jersey elections. Given our state’s current election laws, our campaign for RCV centers on introducing and passing two key pieces of state legislation that will: 

  1. Enable RCV to be used in all local elections of localities that wish to use it, passed through voter initiatives on the ballot
  2. Get RCV in place for the general elections for all state and federal positions on the ballot in New Jersey*

 

If you want to nerd out on the details of NJ’s election laws, you can read all about it in our post on the legal framework for RCV in NJ. But here’s the basic rundown: RCV elections are won by candidates with “the majority” of votes (majority rules system) but NJ’s voting laws center on winning “the most” votes (plurality rules system). And while local officials have a lot of leeway to decide the best way for their town/county to run its elections, switching to a ‘majority rules’ system like RCV isn’t currently allowed. This same “most” vs “majority” language complicates shifting Governor and Lieutenant Governor over to RCV elections, because changing the way our Governor is elected would require a constitutional amendment. 

 

But we know we can win ranked-choice voting for NJ despite these hurdles. Why? Because RCV is popular among voters, has appeal across the political spectrum, and is gaining momentum and increased visibility across the country. 

 

The time for ranked-choice voting in New Jersey is now. And Voter Choice NJ has a plan to win. 

 

To win, we need to build a base of support from the bottom up and show our state’s elected leaders that the public are behind RCV and want them to prioritize passing RCV into law. Winning support among local officials is key to this success: state legislators will only prioritize RCV if they know local leaders are behind it. And while many local officials already support RCV, ranked-choice voting is still largely unknown to most - we need a broad educational effort to bring more local leaders up to speed, and demonstrating public support will be key to rally local officials to act. 

 

To win ranked-choice voting, we need activists and engaged citizens from all over the state to get involved. First and foremost, we need local folks organizing for change where they live! From singular actions like signing and sharing a petition with friends, to ongoing advocacy through meeting with town officials and working to pass a municipal resolution in support of RCV, it all starts with the actions of inspired citizens like us. 

 

We’re on our way to a future with ranked-choice voting, and we need you. Join our campaign to help us build the movement! 

 

April Nicklaus

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Staff training manager @TPINNetwork. Avid political consumer, proud Rutgers grad, @njpirgstudents alum & plant enthusiast. Tweets are my own