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| Thompson Blade | The Badger Herald |

The past decade has seen tremendous polarization across the political spectrum. According to a study from Pew Research, the two political parties are further apart ideologically than at any point in the last 50 years.

One of the forces driving this development is the tradition of party primaries. Party-exclusive primaries require the candidates to appeal to the most extreme segment of the electorate to achieve nomination. This results in candidates who hold more extreme views than the general population.

Combat polarization

In Wisconsin, a bipartisan coalition has offered a new electoral system to combat this polarization, according to PBS Wisconsin. The bill would replace the current party primaries with a single primary followed by a general election where voters elect candidates via rank-choice voting. Electoral reforms such as this one are crucial to avoiding partisan gridlock and voter alienation despite the potential difficulties in implementation.

The two-pronged approach of legislation proposed in Wisconsin is designed to combat polarization. In addition to the elimination of party primaries, the structure of rank-choice voting encourages candidates to reach beyond their base. In a rank-choice election, second-place votes can be just as crucial as first-place votes — candidates must win over “on the fence” voters.

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