What is ranked choice voting?

Ranked choice voting is a simple upgrade to our voting process that makes elections more fair and functional. It allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference.

Some of the benefits of ranked choice voting:

  • Promotes majority support

    Under our current voting system, a candidate can win without support from a majority of voters. With ranked choice voting, candidates need to earn support from a majority (50% + 1) of voters in order to win.

  • Discourages negative campaigning

    Candidates often rely on attacking their opponents and using polarizing language in order to gain support. With RCV, candidates must compete to earn the second and third choice votes from their opponents' supporters, resulting in more civil campaigns.

  • Gives voters more choices

    Democracy is strongest when more voices are heard. Too often, people in power work to limit political competition out of fear of new, similarly-aligned candidates entering the field and “splitting the vote”, including restricting certain candidates from running altogether -- a practice that particularly affects under-represented groups such as women and people of color. RCV allows more candidates to compete without creating fears of “vote-splitting” among like-minded candidates.

  • Saves money

    Most political elections involve two rounds, and potentially more if a runoff is necessary. These extra rounds are costly and complicated, and turnout for runoffs is often much lower than the initial rounds. RCV eliminates the need for runoffs, and can be used to replace primaries altogether.

  • Promotes reflective representation

    Compared to winner-take-all elections, RCV in multi-winner contests allows diverse groups of voters to elect candidates of choice. This promotes diversity of political viewpoint as well as diversity of candidate background and demographics. Even in single-winner races, RCV can promote more political representation for historically under-represented groups.

  • Minimizes strategic voting

    In our current system, voters often feel like they have to choose between "the lesser of two evils" when their favorite candidate seems unlikely to win. With RCV, voters can always vote for their first choice without worrying about their vote being "wasted." If your vote cannot help your top choice win, your vote counts for your next choice.

How Does it Work?

  1. First, voters fill out a ballot.

    Instead of marking one candidate, you rank the candidates in order of preference (1st choice, 2nd choice, and so on).

  2. Next, the votes are counted.

    If a candidate has more than 50% of the first choice votes, they win just like any other election. But if no candidate has enough votes to win, we move on to the next step.

  3. The losing candidate is eliminated, and their votes redistributed.

    The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who ranked that candidate as their first choice have their votes transferred to their second choice. The votes are then retallied to see if a candidate has earned a majority.

  4. A winner is chosen.

    The process repeats until a candidate has enough votes to win. This way, everyone gets a say, and no one feels like their voice wasn't heard.

Who is Using Ranked Choice Voting?

Ranked Choice Voting is used around the country for presidential elections, primaries, local elections, and many other types of elections.