Evanston Considering Adopting Ranked Choice Voting

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South Bend, Indiana If Evanston voters say yes to the referendum question that will be put to them during the midterm elections this year, the city will be the first in Illinois to use ranked choice voting.

By allowing voters to rank candidates in order of preference, the voting method known as “ranked choice voting,” which is also known as “instant runoff voting,” eliminates the need for primary elections.

What are the advantages of ranked choice voting?

In the event that no candidate receives more than half of the votes cast for their first choice, the candidate who receives the fewest votes will be eliminated from the race.

Even if a voter’s preferred candidate is no longer on the ballot, their vote will still be counted, even if they cast it for someone else. Their votes will simply be distributed to the candidates who are still in the race. This will keep happening until one candidate gets an overwhelming majority of the votes.

According to the organization Fairvote, which advocates for the use of ranked choice voting, RCV has been implemented in more than 50 cities across the country as of July 2022. This includes major cities such as New York and San Francisco, as well as over 20 in the state of Utah.

Both Alaska and Maine now use ranked choice voting for their general elections, which was previously only used in Alaska. At the moment, ranked choice voting is only used in local elections in Springfield, Illinois, for voters who are in the military or live outside the United States.

People who support ranked-choice voting say that it could cut down on negative ads, get rid of “strategic voting” and “spoiler” candidates, save money by getting rid of the need for runoff elections, and make sure that at least half of voters will support the candidate who wins.

The Democratic Party of Evanston, the Libertarian Party of Illinois, Reform for Illinois, the League of Women Voters of Evanston, Indivisible Evanston, Common Cause Illinois, and E-Town Sunrise are the eight organizations in Evanston that are in favor of the referendum.

In his previous role as a state senator, Mayor Daniel Biss proposed a bill that would mandate the use of RCV everywhere in the state. It has been stated by both him and the other four members of the City Council that they are in favor of the measure. Because there were not enough people willing to support the bill, it was never put to a vote.

Evanston residents back ranked choice voting in referendum

The referendum has the backing of a number of prominent residents of Evanston, as stated on the website of the Yes for Ranked Choice Voting in Evanston Committee. Among them are City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza, who was the only candidate who submitted petitions to be on the ballot, Democratic Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, State Representative Robyn Gabel, and State Senator Mike Simmons.

Mendoza was forced into a runoff election by write-in candidates, despite the fact that she was the only candidate who had submitted petitions to be on the ballot.

During an event hosted by the League of Women Voters of Evanston one month ago, Biss discussed this election while speaking about ranked choice voting.

According to the mayor, if the nearly 100,000 votes that were cast for Ralph Nader, who was a candidate for the Green Party, had been redistributed using RCV, the outcome of the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000 might have been different.

In the aftermath of a close election in which no candidate received a majority of the vote for their position, it is important to inquire as to “Hey, who were people’s second and third choices?” The Evanston Round Table drew inspiration from Biss’s statements. “Because of this, we use a system called ranked choice voting,” she explained.

At least one member of the council does not wish for the vote to take place. Alderman Devon Reid of the 8th Ward expressed concern to WTTW that the change would “disproportionately affect the black and brown community” and “discourage more people from coming out or water down what they have to say.

” Alderman Reid is a member of the Chicago City Council. He made it sound as if voters might not feel as if they had a say if they were required to rank several candidates in order of preference.

The use of ranked choice voting is prohibited in Florida and Tennessee

The use of ranked choice voting and instant runoff voting is prohibited by law in both Florida and Tennessee. Both states have enacted this law. The Congressional Research Service found that judges in both state and federal courts have given RCV policies their stamp of approval.

If this measure passes, ranked-choice voting will be used for the first time in Evanston’s municipal elections in April 2025, if this measure passes.

The people who live in Skokie, which is west of Evanston, are also talking about binding referendum questions, which could change the way people vote in Skokie.

Skokie voters will decide in November whether or not to adopt non-partisan, staggered elections with a mix of at-large and district-level trustees based on their answers to three questions that will appear on the November ballot. This was the recommendation made by a citizen signature drive.

Both the Skokie Caucus Party, which has been successful in most local elections since the middle of the 1960s, and the current mayor of the village, George Van Dusen, who was first elected to the village board in 1984, are opposed to these plans.