Skip to content
Search

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Ranked-choice voting poised to return to Vermont's largest city

Burlington, Vt.

Voters in Burlington will give RCV a second shot.

James Buck/Getty Images

Tuesday was a big day for fans of alternative voting systems.

Two-thirds of voters in Burlington cast ballots in favor of restoring ranked-choice voting in Vermont's largest city. If Vermont's Democratic-majority General Assembly and GOP Gov. Phil Scott also sign off on the ballot initiative, ranked-choice voting will be used for city council elections starting next March.

And a rival method, approval voting, made its debut in St. Louis after winning its own approval last year.


With this latest win in Burlington, momentum for ranked-choice voting continues to build across the country. More than 20 cities or counties use RCV, and Alaska just joined Maine as the first states to implement the system. More than two dozen states have active campaigns advocating for RCV, but its biggest debut will be in the New York mayoral primary in June.

Burlington was an early adopter of ranked-choice voting in 2005, when voters chose to implement it for city council and mayoral elections. However, five years and two mayoral elections later, voters decided to revert back to traditional plurality voting after a controversial mayor was elected through RCV.

After a decade without ranked elections, the city council attempted to put an initiative to use RCV for all citywide elections on the ballot last November, but the effort was vetoed by Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger. Council members then amended the initiative so RCV would only be used for council elections. The mayor approved this narrower use and the initiative was placed on the March 2 ballot.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

The pro-RCV campaign Better Ballot Burlington was led by City Councilor Zoraya Hightower, a member of the Progressive Party, and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a Democrat.

Under this alternative voting system, voters rank candidates in order of preference. In the case that no candidate receives majority support, the election goes into an instant runoff in which the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and that person's support is redistributed to voters' second choices. This continues until one candidate crosses the 50 percent threshold.

Proponents say ranked-choice voting deters negative campaigning and supports more consensus-driven politics, while also boosting the election prospects of women and people of color. Opponents argue the system is confusing and doesn't necessarily lead to better representation.

While ranked-choice voting is probably the most widely known and used alternative voting method, it's not the only option. St. Louis used approval voting for the first time in its mayoral election Tuesday, becoming the second city to employ the system (after Fargo, N.D.).

This voting system allowed the city's voters to "approve" of as many of the four mayoral candidates as they liked. The two candidates who received the most votes, Tishaura Jones and Cara Spencer, will now advance to the April general election — guaranteeing the city will have its second female mayor.

Read More

Kamala Harris waiving as she exits an airplane

Kamala Harris waiving as she exits an airplane

Anadolu/Getty Images

GOP attacks against Kamala Harris were already bad – they are about to get worse

Farnsworth is a Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington

Public opinion polls suggest that U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is doing slightly better than Joe Biden was against Donald Trump, but Republican attacks against her are only now ramping up.

Keep ReadingShow less
Candace Asher

Singer/songwriter Candace Asher

Presenting 'This Country Tis of Thee'

As we approach another presidential election, less than 120 days away, uncivil, dysfunctional behaviors continue to divide the nation. Each side blaming the other is never going to unite us.

As the rancor and divide between Americans increases, we need to stop focusing on our differences. The Fulcrum underscores the imperative that we find the common bonds of our humanity — those can, do and must bind us together.

There are many examples in the American Songbook that brought folks together in previous times of great strife and discord, including “Imagine,” “Heal the World,” “Love Can Build a Bridge,” “The Great Divide” and, of course, “We Are the World.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has put us on a path to ruin, writes Jamison.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Preventing the decline and fall of the American republic

Jamison is a retired attorney.

The Supreme Court has jettisoned the time-honored principle that no one is above the law. In its recent ruling in Trump v. United States, the court determined that a president of the United States who solicits and receives from a wealthy indicted financier a bribe of $500 million in return for a pardon cannot be criminally prosecuted for bribery. The pardon power, command of the armed forces, and apparently “overseeing international diplomacy” are, according to the court, “core” powers of the president which can be exercised in violation of the criminal laws without fear of criminal liability.

This is a fire alarm ringing in the night. Here’s why.

Keep ReadingShow less