Britain's Labour Party elects Jeremy Corbyn using ranked choice voting

Posted by Ethan Fitzgerald on September 15, 2015
The United Kingdom’s Labour Party made headlines around the world last week when members elected Jeremy Corbyn as the opposition’s new leader. Though most news items have focused on the surprise of Corbyn’s victory over more establishment candidates, it’s also of note that Labour used ranked choice voting (RCV), more commonly known in the UK as the alternative vote, for the election.

Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
This was Labour’s first leadership contest that used direct election by party members and affiliates. The election saw 76.3% turnout and a resounding victory for Corbyn, who received almost 60% of the vote after just one round in a four-way race. However Corbyn’s new deputy, Tom Watson, needed three rounds of the instant runoff election to receive a majority. He received just over 50% of the vote after two of his four opponents were eliminated.

This clearly illustrates the advantage of using RCV: it ensures winners are elected with a true majority, drawing from a broad base of support. The benefits of RCV should not be limited to intra-party contests. It’s time that voters in general elections are also granted the ability to rank candidates and ensure that the people who represent them have a majority of support.
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