This week Fayetteville, North Carolina held its mayoral primary election. Four candidates were on the ballot: current Mayor Nat Robertson, City Councilman Mitch Colvin, City Councilman Kirk deViere and resident Quancidine Gribble.
Based on the results, Colvin garnered the most votes with 5,803. Incumbent Robertson came in second receiving 4,073 voters and Councilman deViere was third, receiving 2,770 votes. Because no candidate received a majority, Colvin and Robertson will face off in a runoff election in November. Had the city decided to use ranked choice voting for electing its candidates, this election could have had a different outcome and saved Fayetteville taxpayers money.
Instead of holding another runoff race in November, Fayetteville could have allowed voters to rank their candidates in order of preference. Voters would have gone to the ballot and ranked all four candidates, if they chose to do so. If no candidate received a majority of the votes, as what happened in Fayetteville, the candidate in last place would be eliminated and voter's second choice ballots would be counted. This process would repeat itself until someone receives a majority of votes (50 percent plus one) and is declared the winner.
Not only would this save taxpayer money, it could also help increase voter turnout because voters would not be expected to vote in two separate elections. Runoff elections routinely attract lower voter turnout than regularly-scheduled contests. The voters of Fayetteville -- presumably taxpayers themselves -- should consider calling for ranked choice voting in future elections.