As exasperated voters bemoan having to perennially choose between the lesser of two evils, the concept of ranked choice voting is gaining a lot more traction in New Jersey.
Ranked choice voting is a system that allows voters to rank as many candidates as they want in order of choice. In the case of single candidate contests, like a Mayor, ranked choice voting can serve as “instant runoff,” better reflecting the majority of voters, while removing the need for a costly and controversial runoff election.
Cities like Minneapolis, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Portland, Maine have implemented the system—as have other states, counties and municipalities nationwide.
In Hoboken, the concept of ranked choice voting made a lot of news last November, when voters overwhelmingly approved a restoration of runoff elections for the Mayoral contests. In 2017, current Mayor Ravi Bhalla won the race with 32.7% of the vote. Concerned that candidates could court the backing of special interests and still manage to get enough votes to take the office, Hoboken residents made it clear that they wanted someone who was beholden to the majority of voters. Despite concerns of corruption and low voter turnout in an extended campaign, the measure to restore runoffs was approved by 74%—a fairly sizeable majority.
Prior to the referendum, Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-33rd District) had introduced legislation that would pave the way for ranked choice/instant runoff in New Jersey.
Meanwhile, last week Politico reported that Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16th District) had introduced similar legislation that would, “represent a potential challenge to the state’s notorious boss-driven political culture,” says Politico‘s Matt Friedman.
According to Assemblywoman Chaparro, she and Assemblyman Zwicker will be joining forces to push this issue forward in Trenton.
“Ranked choice voting has been a priority for Hoboken residents, as evidenced by the many people who have reached out to my office asking me to support this legislation,” says Chaparro. “As a direct result of the outreach I’ve seen from my constituents about this issue, I’m proud to join Asm. Zwicker as a prime sponsor and will pledge to join the effort to push this bill along to open up a dialogue and eventually change our ballots, allowing for more positive campaigns and more choices for voters. Thank you to everyone in the 33rd District who made their voice heard on this issue and encouraging me to get more involved and educated on this topic.”