Grassroots Democracy

Madelyn Hoffman supports comprehensive reforms to make New Jersey more democratic. Some highlights include ranked choice voting, ballot restructuring, lowering the voting age to 16 years of age, restoring the voting rights of the incarcerated population, expanding Civics education across all age levels, and a move to proportional representation in New Jersey’s legislature and of New Jersey’s electoral votes.

  1. RANKED CHOICE VOTING
    1. Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) is a voting system that allows voters to rank many candidates on a ballot in order of preference rather than choosing one candidate.
      1. Ranked-Choice Voting is a simple change to the way we vote.
      2. In most elections today, you pick one candidate. With Ranked-Choice Voting, you can rank multiple candidates in the order you prefer them — 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on. If your 1st choice can’t win, your vote instantly counts toward your backup choice.
      3. This solves a very big problem in our elections: the problem the establishment defines as “spoiler candidates” and vote-splitting. Today if you support an underdog candidate, you risk “throwing your vote away” on someone who can’t win. Or if you support one of the front-runners, you hope that a similar candidate won’t split their vote and hurt their chances. Too often our system pressures voters to choose the “lesser of two evils,” discourages candidates from running, and elects candidates without a majority of support. We need to be released from this box of limited choices, both for voting and for the identification of a diverse slate of candidates.
      4. With RCV, your vote stays in play until one candidate wins with a majority — more than 50% — of the vote. If used for New Jersey elections, Ranked-Choice Voting would bring more voices and choices into our political process and ensure outcomes that more accurately reflect the will of the voters.
    2. BENEFITS OF RANKED-CHOICE VOTING
      1. Ensures Majority Support
      2. by eliminating the “spoiler effect” to elect a candidate who appeals to a broad base of voters. In our current system, candidates can win election despite being the last choice of most voters. Ranked-Choice Voting guarantees the election of majority winners, whose support extends beyond a narrow base. RCV uses a series of “instant runoffs” to find a winner with a majority of votes in the final round (see our How RCV is Counted page for more details).
      3. Minimizes Strategic Voting
      4. by encouraging voters to choose their true favorite, without settling for the “lesser of two evils.” In our current system, if your favorite candidate is unlikely to win, what should you do? Some urge you to cast a “safe” vote for one of the front-runners, to avoid electing the one you like least. Others urge you to stick to your principles and vote for your favorite candidate — period. Voters shouldn’t be forced to take sides in this lose-lose dilemma. Ranked Choice Voting lets more voters vote for candidates they support, not just against the ones they oppose.
      5. Promotes Diverse Candidates
      6. by encouraging more candidates to run for office without fear of vote-splitting. In our current system, many candidates are pressured to drop out, shamed as “spoilers,” and excluded from public debates. Ranked-Choice Voting welcomes all candidates into the race, and sometimes simply deciding to run is all that stands in the way of winning. A study of four Bay Area cities with Ranked Choice Voting found women and people of color are running and winning office more often than they are in cities without RCV. In multi-winner contests, especially, Ranked-Choice Voting truly represents all perspectives, each in proportion to its voter support.
      7. Curbs Negative Campaigning
      8. by rewarding candidates who reach beyond their base to find common ground with more voters. Voters are tired of toxic campaign rhetoric and mud-slinging. With Ranked-Choice Voting, candidates do best when they reach out positively to as many voters as possible, including those supporting their opponents. While candidates must still differentiate themselves to earn 1st-choice support, a campaign that emphasizes negative attacks over positive ideas may lose the crucial 2nd and 3rd choices needed to win. Comprehensive polling that compared cities with RCV to those without found that voters in RCV cities experienced campaign messages that were more positive and constructive.
      9. Strengthens Party Unity
      10. by tempering intra-party tensions during contested primaries and choosing nominees with a mandate from party voters. By allowing voters to rank primary candidates in order of preference, Ranked-Choice Voting helps consolidate rather than divide competing party factions. The incentive to positively campaign under RCV means fewer rifts between party members after a hotly contested primary, and the requirement that winners demonstrate a majority of support under RCV will give nominees the mandate they need to rally party members behind them. It helps every party put their best foot forward heading into the general election.
  2. FAIR BALLOT DESIGN
    1. Madelyn would push for legislation in the New Jersey State Legislature to immediately mandate the complete restructuring of New Jersey’s ballots to eliminate party lines, and create non-partisan, race-by-race elections for all offices in the state in both the primary and general elections.
  3. A FUNCTIONING DEMOCRACY
    1. As Part of Madelyn Hoffman’s Green New Deal, reforms would be made all around to improve New Jersey’s democratic process. The Green New Deal will:
      1. Revoke corporate personhood by amending our State Constitution to make clear that corporations are not persons and money is not speech. Those rights belong to living, breathing human beings – not to business entities controlled by the wealthy.
      2. Protect our right to vote by supporting Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s proposed “Right to Vote Amendment,” to clarify to the Supreme Court that yes, we do have a constitutional right to vote.
      3. Continue to support the “Vote by Mail” option for primaries and for the general elections. The 2020 election saw an unprecedented voter participation rate — giving people one month to vote, drop-off boxes and more allowed more people to participate easily and without hassle. 
      4. Enact the Voter Bill of Rights that will:
        1. guarantee us a voter-marked paper ballot for all voting;
        2. require that all votes are counted before election results are released;
        3. replace partisan oversight of elections with non-partisan election commissions;
        4. celebrate our democratic aspirations by making Election Day a national holiday;
        5. bring simplified, safe same-day voter registration to New Jersey so that no qualified voter is barred from the polls;
        6. do away with so-called “winner take all” elections in which the “winner” does not have the support of most of the voters, and replace that system with instant runoff voting and proportional representation, systems most advanced countries now use to good effect;
        7. lower the voting age to 16 years of age in New Jersey
        8. replace big money control of election campaigns with full public financing and free and equal access to the airwaves;
        9. guarantee equal access to the ballot and to the debates to all qualified candidates;
        10. Move to Proportional Allocation of New Jersey’s Electoral Votes in the Presidential Election; and
        11. restore the vote to ex-offenders who’ve paid their debt to society
      5. Strengthen media democracy by expanding state support for locally-owned broadcast media and local print media with grants.
      6. Madelyn’s administration will also strive to be as transparent as possible about what it is doing at all times in order to prevent the covering up of institutional problems that happened in both the Murphy and Christie administrations.
      7. Madelyn also supports a reanalysis of the state budget to find places to cut waste, and better maximize taxpayer revenue.
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