Voices & Choices

Hawaii Passes Ranked Choice Voting Legislation

Hawaii Passes Ranked Choice Voting Legislation

On Friday, June 17, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed Senate Bill 2162, which implements ranked choice voting (RCV) for special federal elections as well as for filling county council vacancies beginning in 2023. 

This bill will not be Hawaii’s first experience using RCV. In 2020, Hawaii was one of five states in which the state Democratic Party used RCV during its presidential primary. Kate Stanley, Chair of the Hawaii Democratic Party, said that “We had no idea a global pandemic was on the horizon, but we’re glad we instituted voting from home and ranked choice voting when we did.”

Moreover, the legislature cited the success of RCV in other jurisdictions as a reason it supports this change:

“The legislature further finds that ranked-choice voting has been used effectively in the United States and around the world. Notably, New York City implemented ranked-choice voting for the 2021 primaries for the election of its mayor, an election process that engaged several million voters. Maine has successfully implemented ranked-choice voting for two election cycles” - excerpt from Hawaii’s RCV legislation

In April, Common Cause Hawaii’s Sandy Ma said in an op-ed that with RCV, “voters, instead of having to choose only one candidate to vote for, will always get to vote for their favorite candidates, even if the candidates do not have a good chance of winning… [Voters] will no longer have to feel like there is a predetermined winner - typically the most well-connected or well-funded.” 

Ranked choice voting is the fastest growing voting reform in the nation and is quickly being adopted across the country, from Alaska to Maine and many places in between. Hawaii is the 4th state to pass legislation this year alone to advance use of RCV. It provides voters with more choice and more voice, and we at FairVote are excited to see it used in the Aloha State!

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