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Advocates say ranked-choice voting would offer more diverse candidates

A voter checks in at Suffield Middle School on primary election day, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Suffield, Conn. Suffield is one of several small towns in Connecticut where control was flipped from Democrats to Republicans in 2021 municipal races.
Jessica Hill
A voter checks in at Suffield Middle School on primary election day.

Connecticut’s ranked-choice voting working group has been assured that the system would enable a more diverse pool of candidates for elected office.

The assurance was from Deb Otis of Fair Vote, a national nonpartisan voting reform organization.

She told members of Gov. Ned Lamont's nonpartisan ranked-choice voting working group at their first meeting on Friday that 29 states have already adopted rank choice, and voters in those states like the process because it encourages more sincere voting.

“We have some evidence that independent and third-party candidates get more vote share in rank choice because people aren’t afraid to vote for them,” Otis said.

However, she said ranked-choice faced some pushback from Republicans after Sarah Palin lost her race for the Alaska Congressional seat in 2022.

“Rank choice is going to help candidates who can appeal to the broadest groups of voters in their district. Candidates who have really divisive politics, maybe they can energize one niche base, but they can't reach beyond that base,” she told the panel.

The panel is expected to submit recommendations on ranked-choice voting for party primaries and some municipal elections for state lawmakers to consider next year.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.