| Saul Anuzis and Stan Lockhart | The Hill, Opinion |

There are now 13 major candidates running in the GOP presidential primary, including a former president and vice president, governors, senators and business leaders. The size and diversity of the field should be a strength, but under our current election rules, it actually creates major problems. Candidates split the vote with one another. Long shots are cast as distractions or spoilers, instead of being appreciated for the ideas they bring to the contest. Voters fear “wasting” their vote on anyone besides a front-runner. Ultimately, instead of being energized and united behind a consensus nominee, we feel frustrated and divided.

Incentive to find common ground

There is a simple solution to these complicated problems: Give voters backup choices. If a voter’s first choice can’t win, their vote counts for their second choice, and so on.

Just by the simple step of giving voters backup choices, we’d create the conditions for more Republican candidates’ voices to be heard. Candidates would also have an incentive to find some common ground and seek those second- and third-choice votes, instead of just slinging mud at their opponents all the time. More voters would have cast a vote for the ultimate nominee, even as a second or third choice. We could identify the strongest consensus conservative to be our standard-bearer for the party.

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