Ranked Choice Voting Explained

ranked choice voting (RCV) is currently being used in six countries:

  • Australia
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Malta
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland

Eleven American cities are also using RCV:

  • Berkeley, California,
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Oakland, California
  • Portland, Maine
  • San Francisco, California
  • San Leandro, California
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Takoma Park, Maryland
  • Telluride, Colorado

Under ranked choice voting, voters rank as many of the candidates as they choose in their preferred order. Let’s explain this with an example.

In an election using RCV, I vote for, Jim, Michelle, and Beth in that order. At the end of the first round of vote counting, Jim has the fewest first place votes. Jim is eliminated. My vote transfers to Michelle (who was my second choice).

By transferring my vote to Michelle, a candidate I like, my vote has a much better role in determining the election’s outcome than had my vote been tied to Jim. It also means that Michelle, a candidate I like more than the remaining candidates, has a better chance of winning.

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