Ranked-choice voting just made it big in the biggest town for making it — New York City. And supporters of this way of conducting elections hope to use the victory there to spread it, well, everywhere.
With more than 90 percent of the precincts reporting Wednesday morning, almost three-quarters of voters (73.5 percent) endorsed bringing ranked-choice voting to the nation's biggest city. The new system, which allows people to rank as many as five candidates in order of preference, will be used in primary and special elections beginning with the races in 2021 for mayor, city council and several other municipal offices.
Known as RCV and also the instant-runoff system, ranking candidates has become one of the big election-improvement darlings of the democracy reform movement.
Less sweeping measures for improving governance were on ballots in Maine, Kansas and Denver, and all of them succeeded.
Advocates of toughening campaign finance regulation are thrilled by a judge's ruling in Alaska this week, which they view as a potential starting point for reversing the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgate of money into politics this decade.
The agency that upholds the state's election laws, the Alaska Public Office Commission, must reinstate enforcement of a $500 annual cap on personal contributions to political action committees and other independent groups seeking to influence elections, Judge William Morse of Superior Court in Anchorage ruled Monday.
The judge also asked the Alaska Supreme Court to use his decision to review the constitutionality of the state's entire campaign finance law in hopes of a tougher-is-better decision because, he said, he found the "credible and convincing" evidence "about the vulnerability of Alaska's political environment to corruption to be very powerful and concerning."
Such a ruling from the state's top court could eventually lead to many of the same issues addressed nine years ago in the landmark Citizens United v. FEC once again going before the Supreme Court.
The prospects for ranked-choice voting are uncertain in a handful of states that had shown momentum as the fall begins and the 2020 campaign shifts into a more intense gear.
Just days ago, the future looked brighter for one of the more revolutionary parts of the democracy reform agenda, which seeks in part to grow consensus-building and shrink polarization in politics: holding elections where voters list all the candidates they can live with in order of preference, with the winner often emerging as a person ranked close to the top on the most number of ballots.
The biggest potential setback since has come in Iowa, where Democrats hoped to couple a debut for ranked-choice voting in presidential elections with the rollout of online participation in the 2020 caucuses.
But last week national party leaders rejected the proposals from Iowa and Nevada to allow remote participation, concluding that concerns the fledgling systems could be hacked outweighed the desire to make it easier for people to participate.