Resources for Reporters
firstname.lastname@example.org | (o) 763-807-2550 or (c) 612-850-6897
Jeanne Massey, executive director
What is Ranked Choice Voting?
Ranked Choice Voting (sometimes referred to as Instant Runoff Voting) is a method of voting in which voters rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference – first, second, third, and so on. Voters can cast their vote for the candidate they truly prefer knowing that if he or she doesn’t garner enough votes to move on to the next round, their ballot will count toward their second choice. This simple voting method gives voters more choice by eliminating the spoiler dynamic and leveling the playing field for all candidates. Read our FAQ section.
Who Uses Ranked Choice Voting?
Here in Minnesota, RCV is used in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and it will be used for the first time in St. Louis Park in 2019. It’s also used in San Francisco and Oakland, CA, Takoma Park, MD, and in 2018, Maine used RCV in its partisan primary election for the first time. It’s also used in Australia, Ireland, Scotland, and London. Additionally, many states – including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina for military and overseas voters.
FairVote (national) maintains a complete list of U.S. municipalities.
RCV Initiatives in Minnesota
We support two common-sense pieces of legislation that would expand the use of RCV in Minnesota.
First, we are advocating for the Local Options bill, which would give any municipality in Minnesota (school districts, townships, cities) the option to use RCV for their local elections. Currently only charter, or “home-rule” cities, may make a change to their election system without getting approval from the Legislature.
The Local Options bill would also provide statutory elections guidelines for RCV elections, ensuring that municipalities use consistent rules and processes for conducting their RCV elections. Elections officials, candidates, and voters all have the right to be governed by consistent, easily discoverable, transparent voting rules, regardless of the race in question, the method of voting, the location of the polling station, or the identity of the citizen casting the vote.
Second, we advocate the adoption of Ranked Choice Voting for use in statewide elections of state and federal offices. Minnesota has a history of third-party candidates and electing governors with low pluralities--as low as 37% in 1998. RCV would ensure candidates for state and federal offices are elected by a majority of voters, and voters are not hampered by fears of “wasted” votes. RCV eliminates the spoiler effect in races with three or more candidates.
Maine voters approved the use of RCV in 2016 and used RCV for their statewide party primaries in June 2018, with great success.
Experts You Can Consult
Jeanne Massey, FairVote Minnesota executive director. email@example.com, 612-850-6897
Kyle Bailey, Committee for Ranked Choice Voting (Maine)