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Joe Nichols 49sc

Joe Nichols

Joe Nichols's activity stream

  • published Donate - Pub Trivia Aug 5 in Donate 2021-07-10 14:10:25 -0400
  • More complex voting system will lead to smaller voter turn out.


    When your vote is more likely to count in the way you intend, you are more likely to participate. RCV gives voters the freedom to vote for their true first choice without the fear of a spoiler, and over time may increase voter turnout.

    The Kimball and Anthony study shows that, when compared to the primary and runoff elections they replace, RCV general elections are associated with a 10 percent increase in voter turnout.

    A 2020 study by Eamon McGinn of the University of Technology Sydney finds that ranked choice voting caused a 9.6 percentage point increase in turnout in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The effect on turnout is higher for precincts with higher poverty rates.

    San Francisco had a highly competitive special election for Mayor in June 2018, which was combined with statewide primaries for governor and senator. The ballot in San Francisco included an RCV race for mayor, and non-RCV races for statewide offices.  More San Franciscans participated in the RCV mayoral election (250,868 votes cast for Mayor) than in the non-RCV primaries at the top of the ballot (244,137 for Governor and 237,261 for U.S. Senator), demonstrating that a competitive RCV election can drive turnout. 

    FairVote examined turnout in the 6 largest U.S. cities using RCV. Their analysis showed strong turnout in RCV races compared to races before RCV implementation and compared to concurrent races in non-RCV cities.

  • published Discourages candidates from campaigning as hard. in FAQ 2021-03-07 13:12:41 -0500

    Discourages candidates from campaigning as hard.


    Candidates will want to campaign just as hard to ensure that voters know who they are when they get to the polls and can make an informed ranked choice. Again, there is no requirement that voters must rank all candidates, so if nobody knows who they are, there is no reason to believe they will get any votes!

  • Having a run-off vote between top two finishers who face-off for supporters instills more faith in the outcome than computer-run results.



    Option 1: Question the desire to move towards a system that they know has fewer participants and is more expensive. Example: Runoff elections are notoriously expensive and never have as many people in the election. Most voters actively hate when they happen and usually don’t feel like turning out a second time to vote, why do you want a system that we know everyone hates?

    Option 2: Bring up that it’s possible to count the votes by hand, thus nullifying the fear of computers or automation.



  • published It disrupts the electoral college. in FAQ 2021-03-07 13:10:30 -0500

    It disrupts the electoral college.


    We are not currently proposing any changes to the electoral college or how Ohio electors are chosen. RCV could in theory be used to determine which candidate wins our presidential electors. Or if we had a national popular vote for president, we could also, in theory, have a single, national RCV election. There are discussions taking place across the country about how best to elect the president, and we don’t want to interfere with that national debate right now.

  • RCV is not a condorcet system. If your system doesn't elect the most-liked candidate (the "Utilitarian Winner"), it should at least elect the most-preferred candidate (the "Condorcet Winner").


    We do agree that the Condorcet criterion is important, which is why we're happy that virtually every single RCV election ever held in the US has elected the Condorcet winner. It is not the only criterion we consider important, however. We know from on-the-ground experience educating voters about RCV around the country that they are reluctant to rank beyond their first choice due to the fear that a second choice could work against and perhaps defeat their first choice. The fear is not unfounded, because that is true of nearly every other alternative voting method in existence. This criterion is known as later-no-harm, and all Condorcet methods necessarily violate it.

    Another thing we know from practice and that voters will often rank their first choice candidate's chief opponent last, even if that's not their sincere preference, under the assumption that it will help their first choice. In Maine, there were some voters who wrote-in candidates like "Mickey Mouse" as their 4th choice just to push Poliquin or Golden last on their ballot. This strategy is often called "burying" or "turkey-raising" (the Mickey Mouse candidate being the "turkey" that is insincerely raised). Fortunately, RCV is immune to to burying because Mickey Mouse is eliminated first regardless for having the fewest first choices. Consider a race where there are two strong candidates, where both sides raise the turkey candidate M above the other:
    49: A > M > B

    48: B > M > A
    3: M > A > B

    Under RCV, A wins, but under Condorcet, the turkey M (who is sincerely almost everyone's last choice) wins. In fact, it has been shown mathematically that Condorcet methods will elect turkey candidates at equilibrium.

    Sure, it's theoretically possible that M is everyone's sincere second choice, but beyond that being extremely unlikely, we have to consider the political consequence of M winning. Yes, we occasionally hear from math-oriented people who are upset that M loses, but the bigger concern we hear from voters is the opposite: that RCV will elect "milquetoast" candidates who shy away from big ideas in hope of being everyone's second choice. We have to spend much more time assuring them that "everyone's second choice" cannot be elected than justifying the exclusion of the Condorcet candidate to those that understand what that is. Note, too, that the political fallout of electing M could include the supporters of A and B joining forces to repeal the system.

    Lastly, RCV is tried, tested, and works well in the real world. Whatever the theoretical properties of other alternatives, they are untested in the context of real political elections. Many of the influential people we talk to, legislators in particular, are less interested in how RCV works on paper; they want to know how it works in practice. They understandably don't want Massachusetts to be a guinea pig for something untested.


  • RCV “throws your vote away” when your ballot is exhausted.


    Under our current system, when a candidate wins with less than 50% of the votes, a majority of the votes are "thrown away."

    Under RCV, voters are free to rank as many or as few candidates as they like. When a voter stops ranking, they are saying that they have no preference between the remaining candidates; i.e. if only the remaining unranked candidates were on a plurality ballot, they would not vote in that race. A voter’s ballot becomes exhausted only when the voter ceases to have a preference among the remaining candidates. Their vote isn’t being thrown away; rather the voter is deliberately choosing to no longer have a say should all their higher preferences be eliminated.

  • The candidate with the best GOTV strategy should be the winner.


    The problem is that that base of support may not comprise a majority of voters. We don’t want to elect someone whose base is narrow but fervent, who’s deeply disliked by a majority of voters, and who wins only because there are too many other candidates in the race splitting the vote with one another. (If you’re talking to Democrats feel free to hint that this came to pass in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.) Yes, under plurality the candidate who turns out the biggest base is the one who wins; but perhaps another candidate would have an even bigger base had a “spoiler” candidate chosen not to run.

    To note when answering this question: be careful not to make it seem as though having more people vote is a detriment.

  • A Candidate doesn’t have to stand for anything. They just have to pick up everyones’ 2nd choice vote.


    Under RCV, a candidate must have both a depth and breadth of support. Depth is defined as 1st choice votes. You must stand for something to inspire enough passion in voters to vote for you 1st. If you do not get enough 1st choice votes as a candidate, you will end up being eliminated. Therefore, a milquetoast strategy to chase only 2nd or 3rd rankings could actually cost you the election.

    Additionally, voters do not need to rank every candidate for their vote to count. They may just rank the candidates they like in order of preference, so an unappealing candidate still has to work for these votes.

  • RCV is too complicated, and will lead to more ballot errors.


    The state of Maine implemented RCV for the first time in 2018, and did not see a significant increase in voters making ballot-marking errors. Instead, 90% of Maine’s voters reported their first experience with RCV as “excellent” or “good”. Nationwide, a 2016 study showed that, among 26 cities using Ranked Choice Voting, the adoption of RCV was not associated with any change in the number of overvotes, undervotes or spoiled ballots in those places that used RCV ballots.

  • published RCV is too expensive. in FAQ 2021-03-07 12:58:16 -0500

    RCV is too expensive.


    When implemented in Maine, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap initially slated the cost of implementing RCV at $1.5 million; Dunlap later shared with the Law Court that the final cost its first use was only $89,000. That is less than $0.08 per voter.

    RCV impacts election costs in a number of ways that can vary from place to place. A jurisdiction that uses RCV to eliminate an entire round of voting (a primary or runoff election) will almost certainly save substantial costs by doing so. Those that switch to RCV without eliminating a round of voting will probably incur modest costs in making that transition. For example, in 2007, the city of Cary, North Carolina saved $28,000 by using RCV and thereby avoiding a runoff election.

  • published RCV is unconstitutional. in FAQ 2021-03-07 12:56:32 -0500

    RCV is unconstitutional.


    Federal courts found no conflict between the US constitution and RCV. Some states have long used run-off elections, and RCV is simply an “instant run-off election.”

    The following cases all have upheld RCV against federal constitutional claims:

    • Baber v. Dunlap, 1:18-cv-465 (D.Me. Dec. 13, 2018) (upholding RCV in Maine)
    • Dudum v. Arntz, 640 F.3d 1098 (9th Cir. 2011) (upholding RCV in San Francisco)
    • McSweeney v. City of Cambridge, 665 N.E.2d 11 (Mass. 1996) (upholding RCV in Cambridge);
    • Mn. Voters Alliance v. City of Minneapolis, 766 N.W.2d 683 (Minn. 2009) (upholding RCV in Minneapolis)
    • Stephenson v. Ann Arbor Bd. of Comm'rs, No. 75-10166 AW (Mich. Cir. Ct. County of Jackson 1975) (Michigan district level court upholding RCV in Ann Arbor)
  • RCV favors minority parties, making it easy for them to win.


    This is not true. RCV elects a candidate preferred by a majority of voters, regardless of whether that majority prefers a Democrat, Republican, independent, or minor party candidate.

    RCV is a mechanism for running an election, and in itself, doesn’t promise to assist any single party or candidate. The question of who benefits most from RCV is ultimately up to the voters to decide on election day. What RCV does guarantee is that whomever emerges as the winner of a contest does so with a true majority mandate backing them, so that they can honestly represent the most constituents. We believe that any party or candidate should satisfy this basic principle of democracy. 

    RCV gives each voter the freedom to vote for their true first choice without fear that such a vote will help the candidate they like least.  It eliminates the "spoiler" effect of our current system where a conservative district, for example, can be represented by a liberal because two conservative candidates split the conservative vote.

  • published About Us 2021-03-16 19:06:16 -0400

    About Us

    Rank The Vote Ohio provides a simple solution for Ohioans who feel their vote carries little weight because choices at the ballot box are typically ones that don’t represent them enough. As a result, campaigns continue to create deeper divides amongst the public. That’s why, instead of focusing on the politicians, we are focused on building a movement for a simple upgrade to the way we vote. In the end, Ohioans are engaged in a conversation about electing people through a system that brings them together: Ranked Choice Voting. Below, some of our leaders share why they are passionate about Ranked Choice Voting in Ohio.  
    Justin Wells - Co-Executive Director

    Representation is only possible if ALL constituents are listened to, and you are able to replace the representative if they are not doing the job you wanted them to do. If all it took to win an election was 30% of the vote, what reasons would you ever have to listen to the other 70%? Continue to compound that issue for years and you will soon have a populace that no longer believes their representatives ever do what they want, and no longer believe that politics is worth paying attention to or understanding. This is where we are now, and the only way to dig ourselves out of the hole we are left in is to fix the system that caused the problem. With ranked choice voting we can demand a majority of support from our representatives, and we can also discuss new ideas systems of governance. We can show people a brighter future that we believe in instead of how scared we are of the other candidates or what they might believe. Help us make ranked choice a reality and vote for a better future, one that you believe in, and stop voting out of fear for what might happen if you don't.

    Elizabeth Gentner - Co-Executive Director

    Ranked Choice Voting presents a unique and compelling way to inject kindness, empathy and collaboration into American Politics. Everything about this method of voting encourages the candidates and the voters to find points of agreement. The systemic negativity, cynicism and polarization can be effectively removed from American Politics by reframing our voting around the question: "What do we have in Common?"

    Colette Zilka - Treasurer

    I support Ranked Choice voting because I believe that no one should hold office and make policies unless they have a majority support.

    Leslie Phillips - Art & Design Lead

    I became a proponent of ranked choice voting due to frustration with having only two powerful parties in the U.S. This became evident during the Democratic presidential primaries last year, when despite having a large and diverse field of qualified candidates, we ended up with a candidate that everyone deemed ‘safe’. I’d like a voting system where we are finally able to ‘vote our hopes, not our fears.’ Ranked choice voting will minimize strategic voting, giving voters the opportunity to vote for the candidates they actually support and not just against a candidate that they fear. It would also help to negate ‘vote shaming’ those who choose not to vote strategically.

    Craig Clawson - Tech & Data Lead

    Craig and Kelli Clawson believe that it's high time that our politicians and civic leaders listen to the people instead of the large corporate donors. Both the republicans and democrats have forgotten they are of the people. By instituting Ranked Choice Voting, we inject competition into the political duopoly, and allow the marketplace of ideas to grow.

    Joe Nichols - Tech & Data Deputy Lead

    I am for ranked choice voting, because it's the fair and effective way to vote. When we were in school we learned that America was based on an idea of majority rule to ensure the populous of the country could choose its direction, yet we find ourselves using not a majority but in fact a plurality to decide what direction the people want the country to go. It helps diversify our party system to better fall in line with the founding fathers, who had hoped political parties would be non-existent in our country due to the division that arises. We are seeing that division more now than ever with our current two-party platform.

    Doug Berger - Policy & Research Co-Lead

    I have supported ranked choice voting as a start to fixing our broken and bloated elections system. I grow tired and frustrated that the election laws and systems favor only the two major parties. Reform needs to start somewhere and adding something easy like ranked choice voting to Ohio elections would help empower other voices for change. Politicians are supposed to work for us the voter so we need something that returns some power back to us to decide who we want to represent us.

    Maria Gulley - Research & Policy Deputy Lead

    I'm excited to work towards ranked choice voting because I believe it will make it easier for us to hold our elected representatives accountable. iWith RCV, there aren't just two options from opposite ends of a spectrum - we can have the space to vote for other people without sacrificing a vote for the policies we support.

    Kyle Herman - Social Media Lead

    Working on constituent services at the local and national levels convinced me that in order to elect leaders who respond to the needs of a majority of citizens, we need elections where they have to win a majority of votes—not just a plurality from a partisan primary. #RankedChoiceVoting incentivizes politicians from across the spectrum to build coalitions for the common good, instead of inflaming their base with tribalism.

    Leah Nichols - Communications and Speakers/Endorsements Co-Lead

    Our current voting system isn’t working for the majority of people since a candidate currently doesn’t have to seek a majority of the votes to win an election. Ranked-choice voting ensures a candidate cannot win without a majority (50%) of the votes or higher. This creates a voting system with far less negative campaigning, and allows voters to cast their 1st choice vote for who they truly believe in.

    Russell Mindich - Communications and Speakers/Endorsements Co-Lead

    Intense, seemingly unending political polarization has plagued American democracy for far too long, and our current electoral system is partially to blame. American elections only allow voters to select one candidate on the ballot and only require candidates to receive ‘the most votes,’ rather than a true majority. Candidate, party, and voter incentives are deeply misaligned, and we must seek reform as soon as possible to protect our nation’s democratic values and safeguard our institutions.

    I support Ranked-choice voting because it represents a proven, viable alternative to our current flawed electoral design. Under RCV, candidates and parties are encouraged to seek compromise on policy and are discouraged from disparaging each other through negative campaign tactics. American voters’ preferences are granted newfound weight, since RCV ballots enable us to provide our full-range of political preferences through the ability to make multiple candidate selections. The candidates who win in RCV elections will have been endorsed in some way by more than half of the voters, fostering more buy-in for the election results and giving representatives a more significant mandate to lead. RCV also promotes the election of more female and minority candidates, giving our state and federal legislatures a much needed boost in terms of diversity.

    Ultimately, RCV is designed to elect the most representative representatives, in the most democratic fashion possible. It is the reform that American democracy needs to get back on track.

    Kristen Beireis - Communications Director

    Kristen is passionate about making sure all voices are heard and believes Ranked Choice Voting will bring us closer to that. When you have more candidates with diverse ideas, it's a recipe for bringing people together instead of tearing them apart.

  • published Store 2020-12-16 21:21:54 -0500
  • wants to volunteer 2020-11-22 15:38:15 -0500

    Become a volunteer

    We are a grassroots organization. Volunteers are the basis of everything we do.  As we continue to build the foundation and grow this movement there is a place for everyone. We are currently looking to fill positions that range from Team Lead to small tasks. Whatever your time commitment or skills, as long as you have a desire to change the way we vote in Ohio, then we will find a place for you. 

    We ask that you first tell us what might interest you most.  Take a look at the list below and click the activities you would most be interested in and whether you are interested in a leadership position.  Then fill in the rest of the information and click the save button at the bottom.  One of our Team Leads or someone from the Volunteer Mobilization Team will connect with you to get you started.  Pay attention to your email as we'll be sending information to help you get started.  

    We look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to the team!

    Become a volunteer