With polarizing messages coming from the left and the right as well as a very low approval rating of our Congress, it is hard not to feel the divide in our country that's been lingering for a while now. There is a reason for this divide that I wasn’t aware of, but luckily for me (and you), we had an amazing guest on the show who explained it all super clearly and effectively – as well as a solution that is already being implemented to solve it.
On our latest episode of The GoGedders Podcast – an episode that was recorded live from Milwaukee Rotary Club – we were joined by Katherine Gehl. The former CEO of Gehl Foods Inc., Katherine was born and raised in Wisconsin, and is currently advocating for changes to our election process. On the podcast, we discussed how we as a country can give more power back to the vote, the corrupt function of money in politics, the problems (and possible solutions) to our politics industry and so much more!
In Katherine’s new system, voters have a more dynamic say in who they want to vote for, and barriers to entry are lowered for new candidates, leading to healthy competition in our election system. In our current system, voters have to think about the most strategic choice for their party, which, when voting republican or democrat, often means voting for the candidate who leans the furthest right or left respectively in the party primaries.
Her solution is called Final-Five Voting. In a system like Katherine is proposing, the party primary is replaced with an open top five primary, thereby eliminating the prohibition on our elected officials working together to solve problems, and plurality voting in the general election is replaced with a system where voters rank the candidates. If their main candidate gets eliminated from the election, their one vote would then go on to the next candidate ranked on their list who is still in the running.
“We eliminate the candidate who came in last, and if you had selected that candidate as your first choice but they are now out of the race, your vote is automatically transferred to your second ranked candidate that is remaining,” Katherine explained during Rotary.
This process would repeat if needed until a candidate has a true majority vote (50 percent). This voting system has a name, called instant runoff voting. This system would eliminate the need to cast multiple votes during an election; instead voters are casting all their votes at once.
This form of voting also would get rid of the wasted vote problem where voting for a third party candidate or a moderate candidate is mostly throwing your vote away since those candidates have no shot. If voters could rank their choices instead, they could still put that third party candidate as their number one choice confidently knowing that they can back it up with other options in case their primary candidate actually doesn’t make it far in the race. Not only does this make sure voters have a chance to vote for who they want, it also gives these candidates a better chance to win an election.
Katherine has high hopes for the future of our election process, but knows it will be a very difficult change to make, requiring either legislation to be passed at the state level (as is the case in Wisconsin) or a ballot initiative in states where that is permitted to make Final-Five Voting law. However, Alaska adapted this system into their state in November of 2020; all their state officials, governors and federal representatives will now be elected to office in this manner – and progress is being made right here in Wisconsin.
If you want to hear more from Katherine and what she had to say about the current state of our government, then be sure to click this link and check out the full episode of the podcast.