On Saturday, Canada’s British Columbia Liberal Party held an election to select its new party leader using ranked choice voting, which they refer to as a preferential voting ballot. Six candidates were on the ballot: Andrew Wilkinson, Dianne Watts, Michael Lee, Mike de Jong, Sam Sullivan and Todd Stone. Andrew Wilkinson won in the fifth round of vote-counting.
“There are six candidates. There is no downside to filling out your ballot from one to six — it doesn’t hurt your preferred candidate,” wrote longtime party member Mike McDonald.
“In fact, it ensures your vote will count right through to the final ballot if your preferred candidate is eliminated.”
In the first round of results, Watts was in the lead with 24.5 percent of the vote followed by Lee (22.1 percent), Wilkinson (18.3 percent), Stone (17.1 percent), de Jong (16.3 percent) and Sullivan (1.8 percent). Sullivan was eliminated after the first round results, and votes were redistributed to voters’ second choice options and so on until a candidate was supported with a majority.
The race was close, but after the fifth round, Wilkinson was declared the winner.
The BC Liberal Party’s Leadership race shows how ranked choice voting empowers voters. Anyone who ranked their ballot fully can know they had a voice in choosing the next leader of the caucus, if if their top choice didn’t make it.
Both the Liberal and Conservative Parties use ranked choice voting to select their leaders. Ranked choice voting makes particular sense for party elections, as they bring consensus and cohesion to leadership posts within the party. In the U.S., political parties on both sides of the aisle have used ranked choice voting, including Arlington, VA Democrats and Utah Republicans.