What Is Ranked Choice Voting?

by Jeanne Massey of FairVoteMN 

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a practical and effective solution to the dysfunction in our democracy. It is a well-established electoral system that gives voters more choice and more power, rewards candidates who find common ground, eliminates spoiler and wasted vote dynamics, requires winners to earn broad support, and increases opportunities for more diverse candidates to run and win.

Voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first choices, the least popular candidate is defeated and ballots for him/her are reassigned based on his/her voters’ next choice. This process continues until one candidate reaches a majority of continuing ballots.

Voters can vote for their favorite candidate knowing that if he or she doesn’t garner enough votes to advance to the next round, their next choice will count. RCV eliminates the spoiler dynamic, leveling the playing field for all candidates.

 Turnout under RCV has increased in cities across the country. In Minnesota, turnout saw its biggest jump in nearly two decades in 2017 when Minneapolis and St. Paul held very competitive elections. St. Louis Park will start using it this year. Maine became the first to use RCV statewide in 2018.

 RCV goes to the root of the problems of our outdated plurality system that has led to an unprecedented era of division, hyper-partisanship and gridlock. Elections are more competitive and civil; it helps curb the influence of money in campaigns, and winners take office accountable to a majority, not just a narrow base.


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