(The Center Square)—We need more conservatives who get results in elected office, but our system rewards the people who are the loudest. This goes for the other side, too. It’s time to level the playing field.

Take Virginia’s governor race. Regardless of the outcome—and all recent public polling shows a virtual tie—businessman Glenn Youngkin is a giant success story for a little known but crucial electoral reform: instant runoff voting.

Youngkin became the Republican nominee in May via a statewide nominating process using instant runoff voting. More in a moment on this important electoral reform, but in Virginia it forced candidates to build big, broad coalitions across the GOP. Youngkin, an affable retail politician and accomplished business executive did this aptly. Further, he was widely seen as the most electable general election conservative candidate. Fast forward six months and here we are—Virginia, a state President Joe Biden won by ten points, is likely to be decided by a point or two. How? It’s not only the political environment, but also how we elect our leaders.

The structural problems in our elections currently reward the loudest voices to win low-turnout primary elections in states where that is the only contest of consequence. The system tips the scales in their favor. In a contested primary with multiple candidates, a small group of voters who do not represent the majority of their party, let alone the electorate as a whole, can determine the outcome.

This punishes conservatives who can win races while still representing our values. Think Glenn Youngkin.

It’s self-defeating. And it happens all the time! Due to geographic self-sorting and partisan gerrymandering, 83% of congressional districts are considered “safe” or uncompetitive. As a result, in partisan primaries, a small minority of voters decide most congressional elections.

Enter instant runoff elections. We believe this is a targeted and incremental reform to our current system that puts the voter first by giving them options.

As conservatives, we believe in the free market and the competition of ideas. That’s instant runoff voting; it allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference and if no candidate has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is removed. If you selected that candidate as your first pick your votes move to your next choice—this process repeats until someone passes 50%. Ultimately, voters get more choices and a greater say in the political process.

Every voter who is sick and tired of the dysfunctional status quo in our politics should give instant runoff voting a closer look. The system forces candidates to compete in a battle royale around ideas and what we, as candidates, are offering.

Look beyond Virginia to New York City’s primary election over the summer. Critics say the NYC Democratic primary was a mess—nonsense. Blame New York City’s inept election officials, not instant runoff voting. An overwhelming majority of voters—77%—want to use the system again, and 95% found the ranked ballot simple to complete.

Further, the far left got crushed by common-sense reforms. Democrat Eric Adams stuck to the basic issues voters cared about and was rewarded. In an interview after his primary win, he said, “I knew what I was hearing on the ground, that everyday New Yorkers, just like everyday Americans, they wanted not a government of just an ideological approach, but a pragmatic approach.” The likely mayor underscored this recently where he pushed back on the left and said he would keep gifted and talented programs.

Because instant runoff voting requires a 50% majority to win, it rewards candidates like Adams and Youngkin who appeal to the greatest number of voters. Without instant runoff voting, New York City could well have been stuck with another far-left Bill De Blasio-style mayor for four more years and in Virginia a self-proclaimed Trump in heels.

Extreme candidates in big, crowded races can’t get to 51%, not even in an ultra-liberal enclave like New York City. That is encouraging news for our states.

States and municipalities should be laboratories of democracy that develop innovative solutions to the problems facing our nation. States like Utah and Colorado—a red and trending blue state, respectively—should be up next.

Utah is a red state, which, like our Colorado neighbors, has a proud tradition of innovation. Call it western self-reliance, but our vote-by-mail system prioritizes integrity and access viewed favorably by Republicans and Democrats alike. Similarly, we’ve used ranked choice voting in municipal elections with remarkable success. In November, 23 cities in Utah will use ranked choice voting.

Despite a strong effort from this results-driven conservative, Colorado has been trending toward Democrats, but we remain innovators. Over the last decade, our election administration system has moved to a mail ballot state with only a few hiccups, while also adding open primaries—so people who do not want to join a political party to support a candidate can fully participate in the electoral process. The latest effort is instant runoff elections which Colorado cities can opt into, but it should be a welcome reform for all state and federal offices to incentivize leaders who build consensus and get things done.

We’ve been on the ballot; we’ve asked people for their vote; we’ve won elections. The process is humbling, but it should be a great responsibility to represent and deliver results for your neighbors from positions of power. Those gears need greasing.

Instant runoff elections are not a silver bullet; there is no such thing. But reforms that make it harder for loud and self-centered minorities to control our political process deserve closer consideration.

The defeat of the uncompromising, hard left in New York City and the radical far-right in Virginia means instant runoff elections are in for a bull run.

Curt Bramble is a Republican state senator from Utah; he’s represented the state’s 16th senate district since 2001. Colin Larson is a Republican state Representative from Colorado; he’s represented the state’s 22nd house district since 2019. Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.