Ahead of the Nevada caucuses, which NBC News reported had Bernie Sanders in the projected lead, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang took to Twitter to question the effectiveness of caucuses over primaries.
“I’m not sure of the value of caucuses over primaries,” he tweeted. “They seem to suppress turnout, add complexity, and put pressure on state parties to conduct operations that they are ill-equipped for. Ideally we would use a more straightforward process that includes ranked-choice voting.”
Yang is not alone in his view of caucuses. In a piece for Paste Magazine, Benjamin Powers pointed to the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights’ finding that eligible voter turnout in primary states throughout 2016 was much higher than caucus states — 32.4 percent compared to just 9.9 percent. Powers claimed this low turnout is due to the specific timeframe of caucuses and the hours of engagement required.
Powers also noted the contrast between caucuses and primaries, the latter which are more closely aligned with “general election procedures.”
“This certainly depresses voter turnout, more often than not for people of lower socioeconomic status who might not have the job security to take time off work, service members abroad, and people with children who are unable to hire babysitters or care takers.”
One of the proposals in Yang’s suspended campaign was ranked-choice voting. According to his policy page, the current plurality voting system is “viewed negatively by election scientists” due to its vulnerability to the third-party spoiler effect, strategic voting, and partisanship.
Per Yang’s policy page, a ranked-choice system means that each voter ranks their top three candidates. The first round counts the first choices, and the candidate with over 50 percent wins. But if no candidate breaks the majority threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes is removed. From here, each person whose first choice was the eliminated candidate moves to their second choice. The process continues in this manner until a candidate gains the majority of the votes.
Although Yang’s 2020 campaign is suspended, he has teased a 2024 run, and many of his supporters have decided to still vote for him to express their continued support for the former candidate. In the run-up to his possible 2024 campaign, many supporters are pushing universal basic income (UBI) candidates for Congress.
Most recently, former Yang campaign staffer Evan Low introduced Assembly Bill 2712, or California Universal Basic Income, to build on the efforts of the 45-year-old serial entrepreneur’s presidential campaign, which centered around a UBI of $1,000 per every American adult over the age of 18-years-old.