Posted by Ashley Houghton on May 03, 2020 at 11:57 AM

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Kansas Democrats Triple Turnout in 2020 Compared to 2016, Use Ranked Choice Voting for the First Time

First Use of Ranked Choice Voting in a Presidential Primary With More than 100,000 Voters

Topeka, Kansas; May 3, 2020 – FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for electoral reform in the United States, hailed the use of first use of ranked choice voting in a presidential primary with more than 100.000 voters. Kansas Democrats released results from their party-run presidential primary today: a visual representation of the four rounds is available here.

Top takeaways:

  • Voter turnout was three and a half times the turnout from the 2016 caucuses, with nearly 147,000 ballots cast in the Democratic primary compared to 39,230 cast in 2016.
  • After the first round, Joe Biden won 70% of the vote, Bernie Sanders had won 18.1% of the vote, Elizabeth Warren had won 7.8% of the vote, Tulsi Gabbard had won 1.1% of the vote, and 3.0% were uncommitted. By the end of the last round, Joe Biden won 76.9% of the vote and Bernie Sanders won 23.1% of the vote.
  • 17,489 ballots listed candidates other than Biden or Sanders as their first choice, but nearly all of them helped make a choice between which candidate should gain delegates at this year’s convention.
  • Kansas Democrats handled their first use of RCV very well, with more than 99.8% of ballots indicating a candidate or uncommitted counting as a valid first choice. 
  • Voters handled the Kansas Democratic primary very consistently compared to Wyoming and Alaska, two other states to implement ranked choice voting this year. A visualization of these comparisons can be seen here and will be updated with data from Kansas today.

“Kansans were able to vote their consciences this year knowing that they could participate in the election safe at home, supporting any of four Democratic candidates,” shared Rob Richie, President and CEO of FairVote. “Not only was turnout more than three times that of previous years, even if someone’s favorite candidate dropped out, they could still support a backup candidate in their effort to win delegates.”

Kansas Democratic Chair, Vicki Hiatt, has also previously noted, “Ranked-choice voting seemed the most logical answer… This empowers the voter.”

FairVote worked closely on voter education with nonpartisan organizations in Kansas, including creating a video and written materials

Democrats are using similar practices, including ranked choice voting, in presidential primaries in Wyoming, Hawaii, and Alaska. Maine voters will also use ranked choice voting in its primaries and its general election for President, U.S. Senate and U.S. House this November.


FairVote is a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans. 

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