Gubernatorial candidates comment on ranked-choice voting

By Madelyn Foster, Assistant News Editor

This year, Maine became the first state to use ranked-choice voting for statewide elections, and Illinois may soon follow suit.

Ranked-choice voting is a system that allows voters to rank all candidates by order of preference as opposed to selecting one. Senate Bill 0780, which was initially filed in 2017, proposes Illinois use ranked-choice voting for statewide elections.

“Only one other state in the entire 50 states has adopted this new system, so the fact that we’re even talking about it at this high of a level shows that this is something that is being taken seriously,” said Ben Chapman, senior in ACES and president of Illinoisans for Ranked Choice Voting.

Chapman said it may be a few years before voters see any further action or implementation as a result of SB0780, but he said students and locals are paying attention to it already.

“This is the way students would be voting in local elections and the way they would be voting in the state if they decide to stay,” Chapman said. “This is a reform students care about because it affects their community.”

Two of the four current gubernatorial candidates, JB Pritzker and Kash Jackson, made statements addressing their attitudes toward SB0780.

Both statements were made to Illinoisans for Ranked Choice Voting, nonpartisan electoral advocacy group, in August.

Jackson said he would sign SB0780 if it made it to his desk as governor, but Pritzker said ranked-choice voting should be studied for effectiveness and made no comment as to whether or not he would sign SB0780.

Eric Jakobsson, Urbana alderman, said in a statement to Illinoisans for Ranked Choice Voting that he is in favor of the voting style because it removes barriers put up by partisan politics.

“Of course, if there are only two candidates on the ballot, there is no difference,” Jakobsson said. “But where there are more than two candidates, a ranking will more accurately reflect the will of the people, which should be the bottom line.”

April Wendling, senior in LAS, said she agrees that ranked-choice voting allows candidates to share similar stances without having to worry about splitting votes or party preferences.

Hannah Chen, sophomore in Engineering, said she thinks ranked-choice voting gives voters more of a voice and would make it more difficult for gerrymandering to occur.

“It has a lower margin of error than our current system because you aren’t so scared of wasting your votes,” Chen said. “I would have more faith in the voting system.”

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