Philadelphia ranked-choice: early observations

The local paper of record has endorsed RCV in the context of a crowded Democratic mayoral primary. It also has called for nonpartisan elections (potentially with runoffs). How the latter might affect the former is left to the reader.

The endorsement followed a poll by several pro-RCV groups. One is pushing simultaneously in Harrisburg for open primaries.

I have been following the issue since I got here in early 2019. The Philadelphia Citizen wrote about it in 2016. There were murmurs of interest in good-government circles but not much more. (Hence we found the site useful for a survey experiment.) National groups became vocal in Spring 2021, shortly after New York City adopted RCV for primaries.

I discussed the issue on Philly NPR in late April.* Billy Penn ran a story earlier that week.

Here is a piece I wrote in October 2021. It recommended open-list proportional representation. (The conversation at the time was less mayor-centric.) It also noted that a Philadelphian had invented list PR in the 1840s. This was partly to address the unpredictability of runoffs.

*The interview refers to me as an assistant professor. I am flattered but not one.

Some key points from “More Parties or No Parties”

These are posted on Medium.

The darkness of anti-party reform

Compare this recent comment from Nevada…

It may take some time to educate voters, but that’s OK if it allows us to break away from this wretched two-party system, in which both parties put forth horrible candidates.

…to an older one from 1911:

The Grand Junction plan has destroyed all municipal political machines. It provides for non-partisan nominations by twenty-five individual petitioners. The headless non-partisan and short ballot was adopted. Such a ballot results practically in an educational qualification for voters, and greatly reduces the number of ignorant and corrupt votes.