WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Proponents of ranked-choice voting want to see it in D.C. They’re working to get it on the ballot next year.
The concept would also give a green light to independent voters to cast their ballots in party primaries — moves some Democratic party loyalists are fiercely opposed to.
But others in the nation’s capital are keeping an open mind.
“I think people get used to change. And I think in this political climate, people are looking for options,” said Taquiena Boston. She said that people “feel really boxed in by just having a two-party system.”
The D.C. Board of Elections voted last week to allow the first steps in the process to go forward, ruling that the concept did not run afoul of the Constitution. There are many steps left, including a 10-day challenge period. Proponents will also have to collect more than 26,000 signatures.
“I think there’ll be a lot of forces that oppose it, and it’s one of those things, like most changes, where if you want it, you have to be really persistent and put the energy in it over time,” Taquiena Boston said.
With a ranked-choice voting system, voters will rank candidates on the ballot in the voting booth instead of only choosing one candidate.
If one candidate has not won at least 50%, the lowest tallied candidate would be eliminated. If a voter selected the rejected candidate as their first choice, that vote go to their number two candidate. This process continues until a single candidate is chosen.
Critics, including some longtime Democrats, have assailed the concept, saying if ranked-choice voting is approved by voters, it would cause confusion — especially for the elderly.
“I think that if this ranked-choice voting passes, it would go down as the great voter suppression of… the most stable, vulnerable population in the city,” said Bob King, a Democratic activist who lives in Ward 5.
King is worried about how seniors might be overwhelmed by the numerous choices and could be dissuaded from voting.
“This is a dangerous move, and they will be left out,” he said.
Kymone Freeman, a progressive activist in D.C., said ranked-choice voting must happen. He believes this form of voting would benefit people who want the best person elected.
“This is a racial equity issue,” he said. “And now I think that time has come, and we’re looking to challenge old ways of doing things.”
Michon Boston, who is also open to the concept, said that she sees ranked-choice voting as having a chance.
“I think it’s worth a conversation for people to talk about it and see what can come out of it,” Michon Boston said. “We’re talking about a Democratic process and both options are a Democratic process.”