Uncontested political races in Rhode Island are not uncommon, and they can be frustrating for voters who feel that they do not have a meaningful say in who represents them. Ranked choice voting (RCV) offers a way to address this problem by allowing voters to express their preferences even in uncontested races.
Under RCV, voters rank the candidates in order of preference, rather than simply voting for one candidate. This means that even in races where there is only one candidate, voters can still have a say in the outcome by ranking that candidate relative to potential alternatives, such as the addition of a ‘write-in’ candidate. This not only gives voters a greater sense of agency, but it also encourages candidates get involved in races where they might not have otherwise.
RCV has proven to be a successful electoral system in other states and municipalities, including Maine where it was implemented in 2018 and 2020. In Maine, RCV has led to higher voter turnout, more diverse candidates, and more issue-based and civil campaigns. These are all positive outcomes that we should aspire to in Rhode Island.
While uncontested races are a reality of our electoral system, but that does not mean we should accept them as the status quo. By adopting RCV, we can give voters a greater sense of participation and make our democracy more inclusive and representative.
It’s time for Rhode Island to join the growing number of states and municipalities that have implemented RCV. Let’s work together to create a more democratic and equitable electoral process for all.
Tony Jones – Narragansett, RI