Voices & Choices

Burlington could hold Ranked Choice Voting referendum this November

Burlington could hold Ranked Choice Voting referendum this November

On Monday, the City Council of Burlington, Vermont voted to put a referendum on the November ballot about whether to adopt Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in local elections. The measure must now be approved by the mayor. 

Councilor Jane Stromberg called RCV a “dramatic improvement from our current plurality system, which allows a candidate to be elected with only 40% of the vote.”

Kate Lapp of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) said “Vermont is a unique place in that it has a healthier three party system than most states, and that means that Ranked Choice Voting is particularly important as it alleviates the spoiler candidate effect.” VPIRG supports RCV’s use throughout the state “as a means of ensuring that candidates for top offices in Vermont have the support of a majority of voters.”

Burlington previously used RCV from 2006 to 2010 in mayoral elections, but repealed it following a close mayoral race in 2009. Candidate Kurt Wright led in the first round and lost in a subsequent round, prompting the repeal effort.

This proposed referendum would expand RCV beyond its previous usage in Burlington by including city council and school commission races as well as mayoral ones. If the referendum passes, the Vermont legislature will still have to approve the change.

Burlington’s movement to restore RCV comes as the reform is gaining momentum all around the country, from statewide ballot initiatives to use in presidential primaries. If you want to help bring RCV to your community, you can get involved here.

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