Andrew Yang, a new political party, took to the stage on Saturday at FreedomFest at the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas. FreedomFest attracts right-wing and libertarian ideologues. As a former presidential and mayoral candidate who ran as Democrat before breaking up with the party, Yang’s inclusion as a speaker raised some eyebrows among attendees. But, on the convention’s final day, Yang was excitedly received by the audience, as Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” played.
One of the main objectives of Yang’s new Forward Party is to promote ranked choice voting with open primaries. Yang calls his proposed system “Final 5 voting,” and it appears to be More than just a coincidenceAccording to Yang, this issue will appear on Nevada’s November ballot.
Move Nevada ForwardThe amendment was voted in by the non-profit coalition that I am a part of. Aside from the obvious naming similarities, a quick scroll of their website shows photos of the “Yang Gang” supporting his 2020 presidential bid. Cesar Marquez serves as both the director of the ballot initiative, and also the state lead. Forward Nevada, While he acknowledges their party status, NV Secretary Of State is still working to officially recognize them as such. Marquez tells RedState,
“This system will allow any party to have a chance similar to European countries with multiparty systems.”
Not everyone is on the same page. With dissent already swirling from the party leaders, it is expected that Nevada Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties all will formally oppose. Yang asked his audience members if they were members or not of their respective parties. When he inquired if there were any Democrats in the room, laughter was all that was heard. Yang went on to criticize Nevada Democrat leaders–saying they suggested ranked choice voting was “too confusing for voters of color”–as the audience jeered.
Jesse Law, Clark County Republican Party chairman, predicts that local Republicans will vote against the ballot question. RedState.
“I don’t think Nevada Republicans will vote for it because they want to put their best candidates forward to the general.”
Voters will be asked to decide on opening the primary and ranked choice voting together, thus creating Yang’s top five system, but many find an open primary to be undesirable. Angela McArdle is the Chair of Libertarian National Committee. She says that while she supports ranked voting, she has experienced the benefits of open primaries in California. RedState hears from McArdle.
“Ranked choice voting is a better system than what we have now, but I have yet to see it move the needle in the direction of individual liberty. It’s not in my top five concerns. The California ‘jungle’ primary makes it very difficult to get anyone on the ballot that isn’t a Democrat.”
Marquez also shares criticism for Californa’s election system telling RedState,
“We don’t like what California is doing, which is why we have top five, instead of top two.”
Nevada has currently closed primaries. This allows major party voters in Nevada to choose candidates from their party for the general elections. Minor parties, such as the Libertarian Party, can skip the primary and select their candidates at convention. RedState’s Chairman of Nevada Libertarian Party Charles Melchin said that he was concerned about how third-party voters will be able to vote for presidential candidates in the proposed system.
“Nobody has answered that question. I don’t want to see a Libertarian presidential candidate on the ballot in 49 states, but not on the ballot in Nevada.”
There are still many questions about the practical effects of the Constitution Amendment, and what language will be passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature if it is implemented. There aren’t clear answers on the need for or roles of parties under this proposal, nor why Yang ironically launched a new party that attempts to minimize… parties. Brandon Davis, the Libertarian candidate for Nevada Governor and Brandon Davis support the reform. There’s not a lot of consensus on the subject. RedState was informed by Rebecca Davis, his wife.
“I can’t tell you how many times over the last few years I’ve heard individuals say they feel politically homeless. Ranked choice voting and open primaries give more choice to the people, more power in the hands of the individual to vote for a person over a party.”
Davis and Yang seem to be aiming to appeal to the same demographics, with Davis capitalizing on disenfranchised voters of a recent GOP grassroots populist movement in the Governor’s race by providing a “third option.” Marquez describes the Forward Party’s appeal to RedState as being geared toward,
“[m]oderate Republicans, disenfranchised Libertarians, nonpartisans, disenfranchised Democrats, younger and more diverse voters.”
RedState hears from McArdle, that the Forward Party is aimed at appealing to.
“[c]entrists, moderates and Libertarians who have progressive tendencies who feel that economic freedom is not a priority.”
Though Yang told the liberty-loving audience that final five voting is a “win for Libertarians and Independents,” that message didn’t resonate with party members who feared what they could lose.
Nevada Libertarian Executive Committee Member Adam Haman tells RedState,
“I wish the ballot proposal could be split in half, while ranked choice voting more accuratley expreses the will of the electorate, the open primary system will have the effect of destroying third parties in Nevada.
He concludes: “I don’t want the Libertarian Party to disappear.”