Reforming a country, or even a state, is a marathon, not a sprint. And though many state legislatures are wrapping up their 2019 sessions, the race to reinvigorate local and state elections through ranked choice voting (RCV) legislation is far from over.
RCV bills were introduced in record numbers this year, making an appearance in 24 states as of June 3. And the proposals were not only numerous, but creative in their approach, from local options bills and pilot projects to RCV for special and vacancy elections and even for use to make sense of an increasingly crowded 2020 Democratic presidential nomination field.
Though just two of the many RCV-related bills have passed into law - related to existing RCV implementation and education efforts in Utah and New Mexico - a number that failed to make it to the final step saw significant progress nonetheless. Meanwhile, several others will live on after session ends, with the promise of a renewed consideration after additional study and information-gathering. And there’s still hope yet for a few more state RCV bills to cross the finish line this year in legislatures not yet close to ending their sessions.
FairVote will continue to track all legislation, working with FairVote Action and local allies in support of many bills. Here are a few highlights as we hit the halfway mark for the 2019 calendar year.
- California: The ultimate case of “if at first you don’t succeed,” a 2019 local options bill is expected to cross the finish line, making it the third such bill to pass the California legislature (the prior two passed with bipartisan support only to be vetoed by previous governors). The proposal reached a major milestone in winning over the state Senate, but still requires approval from the House and the governor.
- Minnesota: In another example of progress achieved, this year’s local options bill made significant strides over prior iterations, winning “deep and wide support” in its House before failing in the Senate, as state allies FairVote Minnesota noted in a recent email to its supporters.
- Maine: After its historic use of RCV for congressional offices in November, the state continues to wrestle with the constitutional amendment required to expand RCV to state general elections. A flurry of bills both for and against its expansion will likely die when the legislature convenes, though introduction of ranked ballots in a presidential primary remains in the running.
- New York: Much like Maine, RCV was among the topics du jour in this year’s New York legislature. Though most bills are expected to fade when the session comes to a close, continued interest and advocacy for RCV in New York City by way of the Charter Revision Commission remains a priority for FairVote and its New York allies.
- Massachusetts: After scoring record support among its legislators this year thanks to efforts by Voter Choice Massachusetts, RCV in Massachusetts will live to run again in a future session after being referred to committee for additional review and study.