With dozens of Democrats lining up to run for President in 2020, now is the time to adopt ranked choice voting in early states to guarantee that primary winners have clear majority support. Greater choices for voters is welcome, but crowded primaries can produce “winners” with less than 25 percent of the vote. Meantime, millions of Democratic voters could fail to elect any delegates at all because their candidate falls below the 15 percent qualifying threshold. Someone could easily win the nomination over the expressed opposition of most primary voters.

Consider the 2016 Republican primaries, which featured more than a dozen credible candidates. With provocative rhetoric making him the favorite of a passionate minority, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll MORE captured the nomination despite falling short of a majority in the first 40 primaries and caucuses and polls indicating he would have lost in most early contests in head-to-head races against opponents like Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFreedom to Compete Act would benefit many American workers Booker, Harris have missed most Senate votes Dems say attorney general undermined credibility with Trump talking point MORE (R-Fla.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run Booker, Harris have missed most Senate votes O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign MORE (R-Texas).

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Next year’s Democratic race presents the same fractured dynamics. Moreover, Democrats require states to allocate delegates in proportion to the vote, so that a candidate winning a state with 33 percent of the vote takes about a third of the delegates, not all. This “fair reflection” principle makes more votes count. But winning the nomination on the first convention ballot requires a candidate to arrive with more than half the delegates; otherwise, super-delegates have an equal say in deciding a brokered convention. Democrats will need as much fine-grained information as possible about what their voters really want.

Current voting rules can also turn the goal of a “fair reflection” into a distorted funhouse mirror. To earn delegates, a candidate must exceed 15 percent of votes; all others are shut out. In caucus states like Iowa, backers of candidates below this threshold can move to a backup second choice to make their vote count. But “single choice voting” allows no backups. With a crowded field, more than half the vote easily could be cast for candidates below the threshold; it’s even possible that no candidate would qualify for delegates in some states. Expect finger-pointing among like-minded voters splitting the vote, tied to factors like shared ethnicity (African American Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' Man arrested for threatening Dems, citing Omar comments Buttigieg says he wouldn't be opposed to having Phish play at his inauguration MORE and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisFive former Obama ambassadors back Buttigieg Harris: Integrity of US justice system 'took a real blow' with Barr's actions Sanders announces first endorsements in South Carolina MORE), ideology (progressive Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' The STATES Act will expose flawed marijuana legacy Impeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent MORE, Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Budowsky: 2020 Dems should debate on Fox Overnight Health Care: How 2020 Dems want to overhaul health care | Brooklyn parents sue over measles vaccination mandate | Measles outbreak nears record MORE and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' On The Money: House Dem says marijuana banking bill will get vote in spring | Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers | US home construction slips in March | Uber gets B investment for self-driving cars Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers MORE), and experience (several mayors may run).

Ranked choice voting (RCV) is the best way to allow greater voter choice without wasted votes and unrepresentative winners.  RCV was used successfully last year in Maine’s congressional election and has been adopted for elections in 22 American cities and counties and the national legislatures in Australia and Ireland and for most party leader elections in Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

New Hampshire and other states should pass laws to enable voters to rank their presidential choices first, second and so on. To reveal the state’s majority winner, voters’ first choices are tallied. The last-place candidate is defeated, and ballots for that candidate count for their next ranked choice. When down to instant runoff between the strongest two candidates, the winner always earns a majority of the vote. Democrats could allocate delegates fairly based on vote totals at the point when all remaining candidates exceeded 15 percent of votes. Caucus states are even easier, as it only means changing party rules and choosing among relatively inexpensive ballot-tallying options.

RCV works for all parties. It will help any party gain stronger nominees and provide more clarity about what voters really want going into conventions. Because voters’ backup choices matter, candidates with RCV tend to run more positive campaigns, seek common ground, and respect their opponents’ supporters. That means primaries will see less of the divisive rhetoric that can weaken nominees in the general election.

RCV’s experience statewide in Maine and in several of our most diverse cities demonstrates it engages new voters and invigorates democracy. Last June, more San Francisco voters cast RCV ballots for mayor than in the non-RCV races for governor and Senate. In Maine, turnout increased, and voter error was minuscule. In its seven-way Democratic primary for governor, more than three times as many voters ranked at least six candidates as ranked one, debunking concerns that ranking candidates may be difficult or time-consuming.

With voters clearly ready to rank more than one candidate in what is shaping up to be a talented field, why weaken their vote by denying them that power? States and major parties have every reason to establish ranked choice voting around the nation as a key feature of the 2020 elections.

Raskin represents Maryland’s 8 th District. Richie is President and CEO of FairVote. Eichen is Advisor for EqualCitizens.US