Voices & Choices

Even with high turnout, Mississippi runoffs come at a cost

Even with high turnout, Mississippi runoffs come at a cost

Mississippi voters turned out in droves for the Senate runoff on Tuesday, nearly matching voter participation in the original Nov. 6 election. While low turnout often plagues runoff elections, including those in Mississippi, the high-profile and divisive nature of this race provided a silver lining in its incentive to bring voters to the polls.

Interest in this year’s midterms and the relatively brief, three-week break between the general election and the runoff also helped maintain strong turnout. Due to the short time frame between the general election and the runoff, Mississippi uses ranked choice ballots for military and overseas voters. This avoids serious mail delays that might otherwise prevent military and overseas voters from participating in runoffs.

That said, the runoff still wastes time and resources that could have been avoided with a single “instant” runoff under RCV. Election administrators in the state had to hold another entire election, with all the attendant costs: printing new ballots, paying to rent precinct locations, paying poll workers and the hours of staff time required to prepare for the election. Adopting RCV for all state elections would eliminate these costly and burdensome elements of a second election while providing a majority winner within days instead of weeks.

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