Ranked choice voting system continues to grow in popularity

Election 2020 Maine Ranked Voting
US--Ranked Choice Voting-Explainer
Posted at 2:30 PM, Jan 17, 2023

Ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, is gaining momentum in the U.S.

“We had 8 different jurisdictions in the last election cycle to adopt ranked choice voting,” said Kelly Sechrist, the development and communications director for the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center.

The voting system has already been implemented at some level in more than 10 states. In 2021, New York City adopted ranked choice voting in primary and special elections for local offices.

In 2023, more lawmakers are pushing bills to adopt it.

But how exactly does it work?

“If I go to the grocery store and they don't have a certain type of ice cream that I like, then that’s my first choice, then I can go to my second choice or third choice,” Sechrist said.

With ranked choice voting, you get to rank your favorite candidates from first to last. For example, in single-winner RCV, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes, the one with the least amount of votes is eliminated. Whoever voted for that candidate will now have their second choice counted instead.

“It does a couple things. One, it gives your voters more choice,” Sechrist said. “Ranked choice voting has a really great ability to actually eliminate costly and low turnout primaries and runoffs.”

Since 2004, dozens of cities have held ranked choice voting elections with more than 20 million ballots cast, according to FairVote.