44 minutes | Mar 17, 2022

Ranked Choice Voting: Nathan Lockwood

Nathan Lockwood is the Executive Director of Rank the Vote, an organization with a vision that the national adoption of ranked choice voting (RCV) could create a political and social culture with elections based on a competition of the best ideas. We discuss how RCV works, the spoiler problem, and the benefits for our democracy.  

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The Spoiler Problem

Ranked choice voting eliminates the potential for election spoilers when there are more than two candidates. In the 2000 presidential election, Ralph Nader won 100,000 votes. Had he not run, Al Gore would have likely won by 15,000-20,000 votes instead of losing the state of Florida by 500 votes. The spoiler problem affects both parties, such as when Ross Perot ran as a third candidate and took some conservative votes from George H.W. Bush.


How It Works

Instead of choosing just one candidate, ranked choice voting allows voters to rank their candidates in order of preference from 1st to 2nd, 3rd, etc. This means that voters now have back up choices in case their first choice candidate does not win the race. Their vote would automatically count towards the second choice. With ranked choice voting, voters can always vote for the candidate they truly love without fear of throwing their vote away. 



In addition to being able to vote for a first choice candidate without throwing away a vote, RCV is a more friendly system for women and minorities. Because people rank their choices, candidates aren’t forced to compete against each other with negative campaigning and the results are a more reflective representation of voters. Lastly, ranked choice voting eliminates the need for runoffs, which saves money for everyone involved.



Nathan Lockwood is Executive Director of Rank the Vote. He played a leading role in founding and growing Voter Choice Massachusetts both as the regional lead for Central Massachusetts and through various statewide roles. He also served on the board of directors of the Voter Choice Education Fund.

Nathan was elected to the Town of Lunenburg, Massachusetts Planning Board and served from 2009 through 2015. His career in the software industry spanned 25 years and included engineering, design, and management roles. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Yale University. 

You can follow Nathan on Twitter at @njlockwood.

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