As a former University of Puget Sound student who worked on the “Yes on Three” campaign to bring ranked choice voting (or, as we called it during the campaign, instant runoff voting) to Pierce County in 2006, I was disappointed to hear the news that the Pierce County Council voted put a repeal measure on the ballot this fall. Its action flies in the face of how well ranked choice voting (RCV) is working in other states and the rising support for the system, which now includes President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain.
Talking to friends back in Pierce County, the perception is that not enough voters understand the system. This comes as a big surprise to me. Of the countless number of voters that I talked to in 2006, only a single person objected to the system because they thought it was confusing. In the nine other municipalities that have run ranked choice elections this decade, voters have handled it quite well – in fact the number of invalid ballots was very low in Pierce’s RCV races as well. I have faith that people in my former county can handle ranking candidates just as well as they can in any of the other places using RCV.