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Beyer and Other House Democrats Are Pushing Ranked Choice Voting

Should voters have more choices when they are at the polls? One Virginia congressman wants to create a new system of ranked choice voting.

When you go to the polls this November, you’ll be voting for your top choice. But what if you had an opportunity to specify which candidate was your first choice and which candidate was your second choice.

Congressman Don Beyer is a Democrat from Alexandria, and he says ranked choice voting would discourage negative campaigning.

“When a politician needs second choice votes to win, he or she is incentivized to share their own vision rather than tear down the other vision," Beyer says. "So this mitigates the extremism and the polarization in our politics.”

That’s why Beyer and other House Democrats are pushing a bill they call the Ranked Choice Voting Act, which would require states adopt ranked choice voting in elections for Congress beginning in 2022.

Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says that could make competitive environments more competitive. But…

“Ranked choice voting could essentially lock out the minority party," explains Kidd. "So if you were in Norfolk or Richmond or Newport News that are heavily Democratic cities, it’s hard to see how a Republican ever gets elected for anything.”

On the other hand, he says, in a county that’s very rural and very Republican, Democrats would almost certainly be locked out of any election.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.