By Mark Bauer

When the calendar turns to October, we’ll officially be in “holiday” season with stores adorned with Halloween and Christmas decor. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Seems like just yesterday Maine was gearing up to be the first state to utilize ranked choice voting in a presidential election.

It’s also about this time of year that we start seeing articles pop up directing folks how to talk to their families at holiday gatherings. The format is something like: You care deeply about X issue, and this is how you can constructively discuss X with family at dinner without ending up with your head stuffed in a turkey.

While there are certainly worthwhile issues to discuss around the dinner table, proselytizing is liable to do more damage than good if it’s not done out of a place of kind heartedness. Social scientist Arthur Brooks, author  of Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt, told NPR that “disagreement in a democracy is the source of our strength.”

“If it’s performed with respect and warmheartedness—even with love—that’s how we avoid stagnation and mediocrity. I’m all about disagreement, but it has to be done in the climate of respect, warm heartedness and love,” he said.

What’s more, we can talk all day long about these issues until we’re as red in the face as Rudolph’s nose, but if we don’t have an electoral system adequately situated to help manifest our greatest ideas it’s all for naught. Instead, a unifying topic of discussion might be about how electoral reforms could actually create less polarization and expand access to democracy.

Naturally, we’re slightly biased toward ranked choice voting as an electoral reform, but there are plenty to choose from. If you do decide to discuss ranked choice voting with your family and friends over the holidays, here are some resources to help make that conversation as productive as possible:

  • Ranked Choice Voting ExplainedRanked choice voting is a simple solution, but the devil is in the details. The New York Times earlier this year published an elegant explainer about what ranked choice voting is and why people are excited about it.
  • Why Both Parties Can Find Common Ground on Ranked Choice Voting: A lot of families exist along the expansive political spectrum known as Left and Right. And honestly, most of those political conversations are about trying to convert a family member to see things from our perspective. In this blog  post, the authors explain why folks from all political backgrounds can unite around the idea of ranked choice voting.
  • Show, Don’t Tell: At the end of the day, words can only convey so much. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, then an interactive poll that shows exactly how ranked choice voting works has gotta be worth even more than that.

So, that’s how to talk to friends and family about ranked choice voting! And while disagreement is healthy, maybe this holiday season the greatest point of contention will be over whether canned cranberry sauce is superior to homemade. And if you can’t reach a consensus, maybe you can deploy ranked choice voting to help suss it out.


Mark Bauer is a producer, entrepreneur, day trader and former Independent candidate for Congress in Texas. Previously he spent 10 years as a legal journalist covering the legal market in Texas and regulatory issues in Washington DC. Mark’s primary interests involve using content and storytelling to help different groups of people better understand one another.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rank the Vote, its members, supporters, funders, or affiliates.