Voters in Fall River, Mass., simultaneously threw out their mayor and re-elected him last week, in an embarrassing display of democracy ineptitude. The problem, as you might suspect, is that lots of people were running to replace the disgraced mayor and they split the vote, leaving the minority hard-core support as the plurality winner.
This is exactly the sort of situation that ranked-choice voting or similar systems are designed to deal with. I’ve written about such systems for years and have been skeptical to the point of being dismissive, but in the past year or two I’ve changed my mind. I think they really can help trim off some of democracy’s rough edges, although they’re no panacea. The Legislature this year shelved, but didn’t entirely kill, the idea of adopting it for our presidential primary.
Here’s an NY Times story about the election, comparing it to Brexit.