What is Ranked-Choice Voting?
Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) is a form of voting that asks voters to rank candidates in order of preference. The goal of RCV is to give voters agency and representation in the candidate who is ultimately elected.
How does Ranked-Choice Voting work?
There are two primary forms of RCV: single-winner and multi-winner.
In single-winner RCV, candidates must receive more than 50% of the vote. If one candidate surpasses that threshold when all 1st-choice votes are counted, the process is complete — that candidate wins, and further counting is not needed.
However, if any single candidate fails to reach 50%, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and those voters’ ballots are reallocated to their 2nd choice candidates. If a candidate hits 50% in this 2nd round, the process is complete. Otherwise, rounds of counting will continue until a candidate hits that threshold.
In multi-winner RCV, the process is almost identical, but the threshold is adjusted relative to the number of available seats.
How do I fill out a Ranked-Choice ballot?
When submitting an RCV ballot, voters should put their most preferred candidate as their first choice, their second most preferred candidate as their second, and so on. Or, if you prefer, you can choose to fill out just your first choice.
What are the benefits of Ranked-Choice Voting?
The goal of RCV is to dissuade voters from voting strategically. In our current system, voters often feel compelled to vote for the most electable candidate instead of one they sincerely support. With RCV in place, the risk of “splitting the vote” is minimized.
Additional benefits of RCV:
- Increased voter input in the electoral process.
- Reduced levels of negative campaigning among candidates.
- Lower election costs with the elimination of primary/runoff elections.
Will Ranked-Choice Voting hurt my favorite candidate?
No, RCV will not hurt your favorite candidate. Your lower-ranked choices will be counted only if that candidate is eliminated from the election. RCV simply gives each voter increased representation if their favorite candidate is eliminated.
Do I have to vote for multiple candidates?
No, you do not. If you’d like to vote for a single candidate, simply make that candidate your first choice and leave the rest of the ballot blank.
Can I vote for the same candidate as my first, second, third, etc choice?
There is no benefit to voting for the same candidate in multiple slots. Ranking a single candidate as every choice is the same as voting for your first option and leaving the rest of the ballot blank, because your 1st-choice candidate gets your vote until eliminated from the contest, after which no votes for that candidate will be counted.
Can I vote for multiple candidates as my first, second, third, etc choice?
No. Ballots that put multiple candidates in any single rank cannot be tallied and will not count.
Is Ranked-Choice Voting nonpartisan?
Yes, RCV is nonpartisan. Our goal is to give voters increased agency, not to direct that agency in any particular direction. Proponents of RCV can be found in both major parties as well as in many third parties.
Where is Ranked-Choice Voting used?
Currently, RCV has been adopted by cities in ten U.S. states. It is used by overseas and military voters to vote in places with runoff elections in another five states.
For a complete list, visit this page of the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center.
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