By Nate Plautz
Communications Consultant

February 15, 2024

Do you feel like the presidential primaries are a foregone conclusion?

Well... they pretty much are... and that's by design.

Though only a fraction of delegates have yet been awarded, the outcome of both primaries is all but certain. Why? Because through a series of shrewd rule changes the Biden and Trump campaigns managed to tip the delegate math and electoral calendar in their favor.

As Politico reported, “Joe Biden and Donald Trump spent many months manipulating their parties’ presidential nominating processes in their own favor. Their maneuvering helped produce a rematch that most voters don’t want.”

How did this happen?

The Democratic National Committee reconfigured the presidential primary schedule, which some observers claim directly benefited President Biden. South Carolina, the first state to award Democratic delegates in 2024, happens to be the same state that “saved [Biden’s] 2020 campaign.” And in late 2023, the Florida Democratic Party announced they had canceled the state’s presidential primary altogether.

On the Republican side, Trump’s allies in the Nevada GOP fought to preserve Nevada’s in-person caucuses, despite a state law that requires party primaries. Additionally, Trump-aligned state party officials made significant changes to the ways some states award their delegates, increasing the likelihood of winner-take-all allocations in delegate-rich states like California.

So are the primaries rigged?

For something to be “rigged,” one must conduct themselves fraudulently. Everything the Biden and Trump campaigns did to alter the primaries was entirely legal. But it’s difficult to argue that a partisan primary process in which the most established candidates colluded with state parties to tip the scales in their favor is inherently “fair.”

Political parties routinely game the system to increase their advantage. Partisan gerrymandering, though technically legal, disadvantages voters and results in elections that are uncompetitive and unfair to voters. The Biden and Trump campaigns “gerrymandered” their respective parties’ presidential primaries to limit–or even eliminate–the threat of competition. And just as with partisan gerrymandering, it’s the voters who lose when politicians manipulate the process.

How can we make primaries more fair?

We can start by making elections more representative. Many experts believe that Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) would make presidential primaries fairer, and more representative of the will of the voters.

As our partners at FairVote note, “[RCV] picks winners with broad support, encourages voters to vote for their honest preferences, promotes positive campaigning, strengthens nominees, and retains voter privacy. It also saves much of the time and resources spent on caucuses, encouraging higher turnout.”

Our current system of voting leaves us with limited choices, but Ranked Choice Voting gives us more choices and better representation. In 2024, Ranked Choice Voting is on the ballot in Oregon and Nevada, and your state may be next!

Ready to take action?

Sign the pledge today to support Ranked Choice Voting.

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