Should Belmont Hill Use Ranked Choice Voting For Elections?

As the spring comes into full swing, class elections arrive at the forefront of the minds of many students: incumbents run against challengers in the ever-changing dance of electing class and school officers. However, unlike the standard seen in local, state, and federal elections, Belmont Hill operates with the ranked choice voting system. While there is obviously some hesitancy about using a voting system different from our country, I believe that ranked choice voting is the best system.

When US citizens visit the polls to elect a new president, they check off one name and place the ballot in a box. When Belmont Hill boys open their computers to vote on Google Forms, the ballot awaiting them is different. Each of the candidates are listed, but instead of selecting only the amount of candidates to be elected, they rank each candidate from first to last. The former system is known as “First Past the Post,” the latter is the aforementioned “Ranked Choice Voting.” First Past the Post seems logical at first. If the candidate with the most votes wins outright, they win as they are the favored candidate in the opinion of the majority. However, the system quickly collapsed under the weight of more than two candidates, as evidenced by any US election in which three parties run with a significant platform. The tertiary party consumes votes from one of the other two, and thus a candidate perhaps favored over the other by a majority loses due to the splitting of votes, such as in Wilson’s presidential victory in 1912 running as the progressive party.

Ranked Choice Voting remedies this issue by having voters select candidates on a scale, with a first choice representing their favorite candidate and decreasing in order of preference from then onward. If there are three candidates in a Ranked Choice Voting system, the three candidates all receive their first place vote. If a candidate wins the majority, they are elected and nothing changes from First Past the Post. However, if no candidate receives a majority of votes, then the candidate with the least first choice votes is eliminated, and those who voted for that candidate have their votes transferred to their second choice. This process continues until one candidate has a majority of votes and is declared winner. 

Ranked Choice Voting is a massive step in the correct direction, especially for Belmont Hill Elections, where many candidates run and a First Past the Post voting system could result in the election of a candidate who did not even win the majority of votes cast, and was not preferred by the majority of voters. While both systems have their advantages, Ranked Choice Voting is a far better alternative to First Past the Post, and should be implemented at Belmont Hill, in our country, and around the world, wherever voters wish to select their first choice free from worry of their vote being “wasted,” and they do not want to compromise by voting for a less appealing candidate.

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