Ranked-choice voting

Ranked choice voting (RCV) allows voters to cast votes for multiple candidates for an elective office, ranking their choices in order of preference.  Tabulation proceeds in sequential rounds in which last-place candidates are eliminated, the next choices of those who voted for them are distributed among remaining candidates, and the first candidate with a majority is elected.

The tabulation works as follows: All first-choice votes for candidates are counted.  If a candidate has a majority of the votes, that candidate is elected.  If no candidate has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the second-choice votes of people who listed that candidate first on their ballots are distributed among the remaining candidates.  If a candidate has a majority of the votes, that candidate is elected.  If no candidate has a majority, the process is repeated. with the candidate with the fewest votes eliminated and the second-choice votes of people who listed that candidate first on their ballots distributed among the remaining candidates.  This process is repeated until a candidate has a majority.

The benefits of Ranked-Choice Voting include:

  • Voters can vote for a third party or independent candidate without worrying about the “spoiler” effect. (In a “winner-take-all” system, voting for a third party or independent candidate can make it more likely that a major party candidate you don’t want to support may win over a major party candidate who would be your preferred choice, if limited to a choice between two major party candidates.)
  • Eliminates “wasted votes.”  You can vote for your favorite candidate, even if they are given little chance of winning, and still know that your second or third choice can ultimately go to a candidate with a better chance of winning.
  • Eliminating the spoiler effect and the fear of wasted votes gives independent or third party candidates a much better chance of winning.
  • With a broader range of candidates running, both within parties, and with different parties, voters have a much broader range of choices on election day.
  • Increased voter participation.  All of these other benefits combine to make it much more likely that citizens will vote.
  • Provides an instant run-off system, avoiding the expense of an extra election.