Ranked-choice voting: What is it? And why should you care? It's likely coming to a ballot near you.

Ranked-choice voting is already in use by two states and Idaho voters will likely have a chance to approve or deny its use next November
Posted at 8:01 AM, Apr 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-01 10:01:15-04

NAMPA, Idaho — Idaho will likely decide in November if it wants open primaries and ranked-choice voting. The group gathering signatures for the ballot initiative that combines the two says it's very close to having enough. Ranked-choice voting is where voters rank their candidates. If their top choice finishes last, their second choice is then factored in and the process continues until one candidate wins more than 50% of the vote.

  • Ranked-choice voting is a system of voting where voters ranks their candidates.
  • Allows more freedom to vote for third-party candidates.
  • Ranked-choice voting is already being used in two states.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Vote in Idaho today and it’s one one vote for one candidate: the one with the most votes wins.

It’s simple and let's face it, everyone likes simple, but what about ranked-choice voting?

“I think there is a lot of confusion because it is a bit of a more complicated approach to voting,” said Dr. Jaclyn J. Kettler, a political science associate professor at Boise State University.

So, what is it?

"In a ranked-choice voting election, voters rank the candidates,” said Dr. Kettler.

Let’s say the candidates are pug, Godzilla, and banana car. If one of these guys, say Godzilla gets 50%, they win, but what if no one gets over 50%?

“It’s an instant runoff,” said Dr. Kettler.

That means the last place candidate is thrown out and the second choice on those ballots are counted in the immediate runoff between these two guys, and the one that gets over 50% wins.

So, why go through all that?

“The idea is okay, maybe now I can vote for a third party candidate knowing that yeah, they probably won't be competitive, but I get my voice heard. And then my second choice vote will be counted and reallocated,” explained Dr. Kettler.

Ranked choice is in Alaska and Maine and a half dozen other states including Idaho are considering it.

Kettler says the process can be a bit more confusing and take a bit longer to count the votes. But to what extent?

“Is there evidence of massive errors in the two states that have put this in?" I asked.

"Not to my knowledge. Everything I’ve seen so far are pretty positive evaluations,” replied Dr. Kettler.