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Luther College political science professor says ranked choice voting could help correct our polarized political system

Posted: Tue, Dec 29, 2020 1:32 PM

We live in a polarized society, says Luther College political science professor emeritus Paul Grander.  That means it's not surprising that we have a polarized political system as well.

But Gardner told members of the Decorah Rotary Club Tuesday that our polarized politics also add to our polarized society.  He says election rules are set up to produce a divided government, especially now that swing voters and split ticket voters have largely gone by the wayside.  "American is a 50.50 country," he says of our current political scene.

While the rules of our elections were set up to promote cooperation between the two parties, Gardner told the Rotary Club that the system only works when there's a dominant political party and a minority political party.  When the two parties are fairly equal, "bipartisanship is irrational," he says, because the out of power party can oppose legislation in the hopes that will lead them to power in the next election.

Gardner thinks there is a solution, however--ranked choice voting.  As an article in Time explained ( ranked choice voting allows voters to list not only their first-choice candidate for a position, but also their second, third and so on.  Gardner says the places where this system has been tried, such as Maine and Australia, have seen politicians become more prone to compromise.

For more reading on the issue, Gardner recommends the book "Why We're Polarized" by Ezra Klein: