Chicago Needs Ranked Choice Voting. Here’s why…
Another February election has passed in Chicago, and voters will have to come out yet again in April before the city's mayor (and the aldermen for over a dozen wards) is decided. This is expensive, time-consuming, and leads to nasty, drawn-out campaign battles. There’s a better way to decide, a voting reform that’s sweeping through cities across the nation. It’s called ranked choice voting.
Ranked choice voting in Chicago would…
- Save the city over $3 million in municipal election years by eliminating the need for a run-off - the 2019 run-off cost about $3.6 million, per the document we received from our request to the Chicago Board of Elections.
- Make sure all voices are heard - voter turnout is never the same for both elections.
- Allow you to express your true preferences without worry over wasting your vote or vote splitting; no more need to check polls to see who is the most popular in a crowded field.
- Save candidates money by eliminating the need for an extended run-off campaign.
- Ensure all elected officials have true majority support.
Currently, many people feel they have to vote strategically–choosing to support a candidate not because they like the candidate or believe they will do a good job but rather because they think that person has a chance of winning. Maybe the polls are showing that your favorite candidate has no chance, making it so voters will not want to support them even if they really think that candidate is the best choice.
This voting system also splits like-minded voters, making smaller groups more powerful than larger groups fielding multiple candidates. Consider the issue of union endorsements in the current Chicago Mayoral election: those voters who want a union-backed candidate will have to choose from at least three front-runners because Lightfoot, Garcia and Johnson all have numerous union endorsements. Our current system of plurality voting may effectively split the votes of those citizens who support unions, leading to victory for a candidate who doesn’t support unions, even if the majority of the electorate want a pro-labor mayor.
Ranked choice voting can fix these problems. And here’s the best part: with RCV, you wouldn't even need a run-off. No one has to come out twice to make their voice heard. You just vote once and rank your candidates according to preference.
If you’re convinced that ranked choice voting should come to Chicago, look below to see which candidates support this.
How do the candidates feel about ranked choice voting?
So you want ranked choice voting in Chicago, but who’s going to help us get that done? We’ve compiled a list of all the aldermanic and mayoral candidates* and have reached out to them about their position on ranked choice voting for Chicago. (This list reflects all candidates going to a run-off election in April.)
*Some candidates could not be reached for comment. Candidate descriptions are not endorsements.
Brandon Johnson is a supporter of ranked choice voting.
Paul Vallas is a supporter of ranked choice voting.
How can you help?
Here at FairVote Illinois, our sole focus is bringing ranked choice voting to elections across Illinois at the local, state and federal level. We're raising awareness with candidates and voters right now about why RCV should come to Chicago and other cities in Illinois. Once the new city council is in place we'll be able to do more, and you can help. If you agree it’s time for Chicago to upgrade its elections, please join us! Sign up here so we can keep you informed.
You can also:
- Write a letter to the editor expressing why you’d like to see ranked choice voting for Chicago.
- Sign up to canvass at the polls in Chicago on Election Day. Help us educate the voters, letting them know there is a better way to vote!