About Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a better way to vote.

Instead of choosing just one candidate, you may choose multiple candidates on your ballot, ranking them in the order you prefer -- 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on. You can still pick your favorite as your 1st choice, followed by a series of backup choices. If your 1st choice candidate doesn't have enough support, then your vote transfers to your next choice. That means your vote always stays in play and is almost never wasted. It also means that the winning candidate gets a true majority -- more than 50% -- of active votes cast. Click here to learn how a Ranked Choice Voting election is counted.

No more spoilers, no more vote-splitting

We've all experienced this in our elections: two leading candidates are competing for the office. A third contender, who holds similar views to one of the leading candidates, enters the race, and—voilà—he/she splits the vote away from one of the leading candidate and costs that candidate the election. Then, the other candidate wins without a majority.

Whose fault was it? Was it the "spoiler" candidate who "ruined" the election by changing the outcome? Was it the voters who supported that candidate and "threw" the election to someone whom a majority of voters opposed?

Neither -- it's our voting system. Under our current "pick-one-and-pray" voting system, a candidate with majority support can lose to a less popular candidate merely because a third, similar candidate is in the race. With Ranked Choice Voting, vote splitters become vote "joiners", since voters are encouraged to compare all candidates in order to rank them, and election spoilers become election "fresheners", since more candidates means more perspectives and richer debate.

Vote honestly, ensure a majority

Ranked Choice Voting lets people vote based on their honest preferences, rather than worrying about the horse race or trying to vote strategically. It eliminates the fear that voting for the candidate you strongly support could help a candidate you strongly oppose, and it ensures that the winning candidate is the one with true majority support, not the beneficiary of a "spoiled" election.

Promote party unity

Ranked Choice Voting is an essential mechanism for unifying political parties. By using RCV in party primaries, and allowing party members to rank all choices, a party will derive better data from what their members want, and the rankings will help consolidate -- rather than divide -- competing party factions. Since the winner of an RCV election must have a true majority (more than 50%) of party voters, then all party members can be confident that the winner has very strong support and has a better shot at winning the general election. Demonstrating a clear primary majority will also help rally the party to work harder for that candidate.

Curtail negative campaigning

Ranked Choice Voting incentivizes candidates to run positive campaigns. Voters are tired of toxic campaign rhetoric, mud-slinging, and attack ads. Unfortunately, in our current system, candidates are trained to differentiate themselves from their opponents, and this quickly devolves into "going negative". However, in a Ranked Choice Voting election, because candidates are able to pick up 2nd and 3rd rankings from voters who support their opponent, then it is best for a candidate to avoid attack ads so as not to alienate the opponent's base and get none of their 2nd and 3rd rankings. Ranked Choice Voting rewards candidates who find common ground with all voters. This results in campaign messages that are more positive and constructive, as demonstrated by polling results of voters in RCV and non-RCV cities.

Save cities money, increase voter turnout

In a Ranked Choice Voting election, a runoff is performed instantly, in a single election. This allows cities and towns to eliminate costly preliminary elections for filling their municipal offices. This also frees voters from the burden of having to show up for both the preliminary and the final rounds. The result: a single, efficient, high voter turnout RCV election.


Want to get a basic overview of RCV and our movement? We recommend inviting someone from our speaker's bureau for a short presentation and Q&A. Click here to request an RCV presentation.