Voices & Choices

FairVote on Ranked Choice Voting in Tennessee

FairVote on Ranked Choice Voting in Tennessee

FairVote shared the following statements on Tennessee’s misguided decision limiting local rule and prohibiting cities like Memphis from trying ranked choice voting in their municipal elections. 

Steve Mulroy, Bredesen Law Professor at the University of Memphis, author of Rethinking US Election Law, and longtime advocate for ranked choice voting in Memphis:

“Ranked choice voting is a bipartisan, good-government reform that has proven itself in cities, counties, and states across the country. Memphis voters chose three times to try this reform, but the Governor and Legislature in Nashville clearly don’t care about local control. 

“There are a number of reasons Memphians voted three times to try RCV – because it permits voters to rank candidates in order of preference, because it promotes less ideologically fractious candidates, because it provides opportunity for less-well-known, less-well-funded candidates who might otherwise be dismissed as ‘throwing your vote away’, because it promotes outcomes that reflect the will of the voters. 

“Yet, the Governor and Legislature have chosen to tell Memphis voters: ‘we don’t care what you think, we know best.’ This is a deeply disappointing outcome.”

Rob Richie, FairVote President and CEO:

“Ranked choice voting is the fastest-growing nonpartisan voting reform in the country for good reasons. As more than 50 cities have shown, ranked choice voting is straightforward to implement and easy and popular with voters. That's why many Republicans introduce pro-RCV legislation and Republican parties regularly choose to use RCV for party contests.

“It's disappointing that Governor Lee and the Tennessee legislature have denied the will of Memphis voters -- the voters who overwhelmingly voted multiple times to implement RCV. We hope Tennesseeans still get a chance in the future. There certainly are good reasons, from exceptionally low turnout in Memphis city runoffs to the fact that Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger was elected in 2020 after winning her Republican primary with only 19% of the vote.


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