By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 20, 2018
Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend Running Start’s 12th Annual Women to Watch Awards with my colleagues at RepresentWomen and FairVote. Running Start is a national nonprofit that works to inspire and train the next generation of young women political leaders. It was inspiring to be in the room with young women from all backgrounds and political affiliations determined to create change in our world and challenge what it means to look like a politician.
At the event, seven alumnae of Running Start’s programs competed to be the organization’s “#ILookLikeAPolitician Ambassador.” The selected woman would become the spokesperson for Running Start. Throughout the night each candidate gave a campaign speech. At the end of the evening attendees voted for the organization’s next ambassador using ranked choice voting.
Hearing all of the incredible speeches that evening, I could not imagine having to vote for just one ambassador. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about that! Using ranked choice voting, attendees had the opportunity to rank their candidates in order of choice. In a ranked choice voting election, if no candidate has a majority in first-choice votes, the candidates in last place will be eliminated one by one. If a voter's first choice is eliminated, their vote instantly goes to their second choice. The process continues until a candidate receives at least fifty percent of the vote. Ranked choice voting ensured that the selected #ILookLikeAPolitician Ambassador had real majority support from the voters. Ranked choice voting also played an important role in decreasing the chances of vote-splitting for candidates that ran on similar platforms.
As a volunteer at the event assisting attendees with the process, I was excited to see voters ranking their candidates with little to no problems and real enthusiasm. When I asked a table of people if anyone needed help, one attendee responded, “Nope! It was pretty straightforward and simple.” That statement could not be more true. Ranked choice is an election method that is simple for voters and leads to a stronger and more reflective democracy for all.
You can try using one of the ranked choice voting apps - Opa Vote or RankIt - to decide what book to read for a bookgroup, where to go to dinner with friends, or what candidates might win majority support in the 2020 presidential race!
A big congratulations to Running Start’s 2018 #ILookLikeAPolitician Ambassador, Cierra Jackson! We are excited to see all you accomplish in your new role promoting the importance of young women’s political leadership.