Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.
Isolation aside, Alaska has changed its elections in way that may be a model for the rest of the country as the U.S. sinks ever lower into a slough of political nihilism and dysfunction.
Starting this year, candidates will run in a one-of-a-kind system that starts by placing all of them on the same ballot, regardless of party. Then the top four vote-getters advance to the general election, at which voters will rank them in order of preference.
The idea is to reward candidates who show broad appeal and to undermine the hard-liners on both sides, resulting — in theory — in lawmakers more willing to get stuff done and leave the noxious political antics to the noisemakers on cable news and talk radio and the rabble on social media.
Others are eyeing the system. There are nearly 20 states, including Oregon and Nevada, where legislation has been introduced or advocates are pushing ballot measures to institute ranked-choice voting, according to FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that promotes the change.
The limited practice has already produced positive results.
New York City, which used ranked-choice voting for the first time in last year’s mayoral race, saw turnout rise by 13%.
A study of four Bay Area cities that have adopted the system since 2000 — San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro — found an increase in the percentage of candidates of color seeking office, as well as an increased probability of female candidates and female candidates of color being elected.