The recent run of success for advocates of ranked-choice voting took a wrong turn this week in Albuquerque. The city council in New Mexico's biggest city voted 5-4 Monday night against implementing the voting system starting with this fall's municipal elections.
Advocates of the system attributed the setback to timing. They said their cause would have prevailed had the vote been held earlier in the year, before many of the council candidates had started plotting strategies for winning under the current system. As evidence they pointed to two of the state's other population centers, Las Cruces and Sante Fe, where ranked-choice voting has been embraced in the past year.
Albuquerque requires winning candidates to have a majority of the vote. If no one cracks 50 percent in the first round there's a runoff between the top two. The ranked-choice system, where voters may list a handful of candidates in order of preference, creates a sort of instant runoff: Politicians with the fewest No. 1 votes are dropped, and their ballots redistributed based on No. 2 rankings, until one candidate has a majority.
"I really think it's an interesting concept, it's something I'm not necessarily opposed to; I just don't think it's something we need at this time," council member Klarissa Peña said, predicting it would sew voter confusion.
The council signaled that, later this summer, it will debate a plan for a Nov. 5 referendum in which voters will decide whether to move to ranked-choice for the 2021 local election. Voters in New York will do something similar, and in the interim versions of RCV will be sued by Democrats in at least five states as part of their presidential delegate selection process.
"The state of Maine has gone so far as to elect their congressional representatives by ranked-choice voting, and I don't think of Maine as a radical place, so I don't think this should really be too scary for anybody," supporter Karen Bonime told the Albuquerque council.
News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.
Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.
RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.
Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?
To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."
The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.
The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.
Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.
While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."