Could Michigan be the second state to vote on ranked-choice voting? Bill Gelineau, a Libertarian, is planning a ballot initiative for a future election to enact ranked-choice voting. Gelineau ran for governor in 2018, placing third with 1.3 percent of votes behind Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Bill Schuette (R). The Lansing, Michigan, chapter of Represent.Us is also interested in an RCV ballot initiative.
Ranked-choice voting (RCV) is a voting method in which voters rank candidates according to their preference and ballots are processed in rounds. The candidate in last place is eliminated during each round, and the voters’ second choices get their votes. The process is continued until a candidate wins a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of the vote.
The ballot initiative is expected to be a constitutional amendment, which requires 425,059 valid signatures to appear on the ballot in 2020 or 2022. Signatures also need to meet a distribution requirement due to legislation passed in December 2018. The requirement limits the number of signatures collected in a single congressional district to 15 percent of the total required. In Michigan, petitioners have 180 days to collect signatures for a ballot initiative.
Michigan would follow Maine in deciding whether to adopt ranked-choice voting (RCV). Voters in Maine approved a ranked-choice voting ballot initiative in 2016, but the legislature passed a bill delaying and repealing RCV. Backers of RCV mobilized a campaign to overturn the bill through a veto referendum in June 2018, and 53.9 percent of electors voted to preserve the system. RCV was used in Maine’s 2nd congressional district election in November 2018, with Jared Golden (D) defeating incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R) after first-round votes for two independent candidates were redistributed.
Gelineau said he believes voters could approve RCV in Michigan, stating, “Are there enough people out there who believe in democracy that would be willing to forgo what may be the end of the two-party system to say we can have a better way of running our government? I really think it’s possible.”