Some Election Thoughts/Time for RCV/IRV

It’s been a week since Election Day and we have seen a lot happen. Many students and City residents erupted in protest that Trump won the Presidency. Some people asked what their demand was (my personal favorite suggestion: a civil action by Bernie Sanders to exact monumental damages from the crooked-at-the-core DNC dealings exposed by WikiLeaks), but truthfully, Trump’s rise to power has installed fear in many different minority groups (including political dissidents) and the marches reflect that.

While the Presidential election was close and had low turnout, one thing is clear- third party voters’ hands are clean, especially here in Virginia where Clinton did win. Although some Democrats are sore losers and still want to scapegoat third party voters, they cannot. Don’t believe me? The Washington Post lays it out: “You can blame the electoral college for Trump winning. But don’t blame Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.”


Locally, the Mayoral election was close. The local media does not want to talk about that too much though. For one thing, the City Board of Elections was pretty strained, and it was not totally clear if someone had won the election for a good day or so. And hey, have they finally come around to announcing an official winner in the 5th District school board race? Last I heard from media outlets, it is likely Dr. Sapini.

For another thing, much of the media prognostication about the Mayor’s race was wrong- many were suggesting that it had come down to a two candidate race between Joe Morrissey and their favorite, Jack Berry, when in fact many residents had already determined the need for and existence of a third.

Perhaps more importantly, notice how the local media is not talking very much about how their candidate (endorsed by both the Times Dispatch and Richmond Free Press) was knocked out. They don’t want to admit that they picked badly and more importantly, that the voters ignored their input. ‘RVA’ rejected their fear mongering against Morrissey, and the corporate pressure for Berry, and went for someone else altogether.

So, a few more thoughts and questions-

Levar Stoney won the 5th District and others to win the election. Jack Berry stumbled here. My personal opinion: He should never have disrespected Oregon Hill. He was too arrogant to even try to make amends and figured his fancy commercials and billboards would make the difference. Thanks to work by Jon Baliles and Stoney’s hard-working campaigners, residents saw and took the alternative. Will Berry try to return to his job at Venture Richmond? Hope not. What can Stoney do for Oregon Hill and other neighborhoods? Well, that is not clear, but I hope to try to make it clearer in the next week or two, when I revisit and renew the Top Ten Issues For The Neighborhood post. Please feel free to submit your own.

On the national level, there are other Election Day outcomes to consider- more marijuana ballot initiatives passed in other states, and significantly, ranked choice voting passed in the state of Maine. Many countries and cities already give their voters more voice and more choice with RCV/IRV. Jill Stein’s campaign is already taking the ‘spoiler’ issue head-on with its enthusiastic support for RCV/IRV.

Locally, consider how close the Richmond Mayoral race came to going to an expensive run-off. Given this, will the local media even mention IRV/RCV? While I give Paul Goldman a lot of credit for almost single-handily obtaining the 10,000 signatures needed to make the City charter change for voting Mayor at large in the first place, it’s time for more electoral reform. We know we need to update and strengthen the City’s Board of Elections anyway, so we might as well join other cities around the world in enacting RCV/IRV.

I know I don’t want to have the same old debates in 2020.

Lastly, regardless of how you feel about the effectiveness of the anti-Trump protests, now’s not the time to stop protesting- reminder: today was a national day of action in support of Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Local water protectors were in force today at the Chesterfield office of the Army Corp of Engineers.

15032231_1511560975527488_4771775265799503420_n (photo courtesy of David Martin)