Ranked Choice Voting Maryland has grown a lot in the past year, and that is in no small part due to Eric Schmidt, who leads the Live Outreach team at RCV MD. You might see him at a parade or farmer’s market, sitting at a table or walking around with a clipboard, and canvassing people. His main focus is reaching out to Marylanders to tell them about Ranked Choice Voting and our movement to bring it to Maryland. It’s not an easy job, but it is crucial. Eric grows support for RCV one individual at a time. 

And Eric is a perfect example of the impact his work has. In June of 2023, Eric recalls meeting one of our volunteers. “I was visiting Baltimore Pride. John approached me and asked me about Rank Choice Voting. We had a conversation and then I signed up.” Eric became a volunteer soon after. “I was called by Julia, one of the intake volunteers, and then I started to participate in some of the in-person meetings at the Baltimore City Library.” Since then, Eric has been motivated to bring on other people like him. 

“I like canvassing because we can engage with people.” Eric is able to see first hand that RCV is becoming more well known. “And sometimes some people will come up to me when they see the sign. Or they don't want to talk to me, they just want to sign up… I think about one third of the folks that we deal with have [already] heard about it and are in favor of it.” 

But to find those positive interactions, requires patience. “You kinda also have to have a thick skin because you'll have the people that walk by you, people that will basically say they don't want to be involved.” Eric says. “I've had some disappointing encounters too where I've actually had one person say that they think that they would prefer a dictatorship. And thankfully, that's a minority, but you'll get this wide range of people's opinions. And I'm glad to say that… I think of all the encounters I've had, which would be hundreds if not thousands, would be like one or two. But you know, it sticks with you.” 

I asked Eric why he decided to sign up, and what it is about RCV that drives him to go out and tell strangers about it. “I see [Ranked Choice Voting] as a fairer system for the American voter. It will bring back fairness to what the question is that’s being asked of the voter, whether it's for voting for a group of candidates or ballot measures.” 

“I was struck by the fact that it's nonpartisan… Ranked Choice Voting is not against anybody. So whether you're a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, this is just a vehicle to get to a decision.” Eric explained that his support for RCV has as much to do with nonpartisanship as it does with fairness. “I think it possibly goes back to some of my work on Capitol Hill, where I worked for a bipartisan bicameral agency… It was instilled in us that you're not a partisan, and you're not here for or against any party or person. You're just here as an employee and a servant to Congress, and I enjoyed that.” 

My conversation with Eric reminded me why our grassroots support is so strong. Despite the fact that Eric’s path to joining our organization is different from my own, we’ve been drawn together by a common desire to improve our democracy. I’m confident that shared purpose will continue to grow our movement. I hope you join us.