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Final-Five Voting in Wisconsin: Incentive for Non-Partisan Politics

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Tom Milbourn - Moderator
Tom Milbourn - Moderator
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Sara Eskrich - Executive Director of Democracy Found
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Rep. Joel Kitchens - (R) 1st State Assembly District, Wisconsin
RSV Election Example
RSV Voting Example
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RSV Voting Example

MADISON, Wis (WXOW) - Currently in Wisconsin, a bi-partisan Final-Five Voting bill is making its way through the capitol. As legislators learn more about the process, more of them are getting on board with it.

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is an election method that re-shapes the way politicians are elected. With growing partisanship cementing on far ends of the political spectrum, voters say they are frustrated with the process.

Instead of partisan primaries where the voter must choose a particular party first and then choose a candidate, RCV uses single page ballots where all candidates are listed.

Once the primary concludes, the top five vote-getters move on to the General Election where voters can select one candidate or rank them in order of preference.

In most RCV elections, automatic runoffs then narrow down the candidates. Runoffs eliminate the last place candidate in each round and place the second choice votes to their respective candidates. This continues until one candidate receives more than 50% of the aggregate votes thus ensuring the the majority of the constituents is represented.

In a panel moderated by Tom Milbourn, panelists discussed the opportunities and challenges associated with the Final-Five Voting process.

Executive Director of Democracy Found, Sara Eskrich explained the ranked choice process as a way to ensure the right candidates are elected that work for all the people they represent and get things done in Washington D.C.

"Whether or not it elects moderates, frankly, I don't care, I want to elect problem solvers. I want people who can get things done for the citizens of our country and Final-Five is a really important step in making the incentives possible," said Eskrich.

1st Assembly District Representative, Joel Kitchens, said the way to get elected nowadays is to tear down the opposing candidate. In doing so, it's turning off voters and they are staying away from elections, leaving 10% of the state voting population determining the fate for the rest of the state.

"Polls all show that the public says they are turned off by the mudslinging, but they also show that it works. So, you know, I think as was mentioned, it would disincentivize that. Those people would no longer have to just worry about being out-flanked on the far-left of the far-right. There would be incentive there for them to try to keep those people in the middle happy too, because you at least want to get…want to be their second choice," said Rep. Kitchens (R - Sturgeon Bay).

Designed to counter the hyper partisanship, candidates would have to differentiate themselves based on their own merit versus turning the voter away from their opponent. In doing so, it may endear them as potential alternative to the voter's first choice.

Ranked voting elections are becoming more popular. States Maine and Alaska have implemented this method for general elections already with more than a dozen others using it at lower levels.

The discussion of Final-Five Voting was broadcast Tuesday live on Facebook by LeaderEthics-Wisconsin, a non-partisan non-profit organization. The recorded conversation is available for viewing by clicking here.

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Joe Minney

Joe is Weekend News Anchor at WXOW

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