Voices & Choices

Ireland citizens assembly to vote on ranked choice voting

Ireland citizens assembly to vote on ranked choice voting

The Ireland Citizens Assembly recently conducted a two day meeting to discuss recommended referendums to send to the House of the Oireachtas for consideration. Among those recommended referendums was a proposition in favor of an important use of ranked choice voting when more than two choices are provided in a national referendum.

During the meeting, 99 members in the assembly called for a series of reforms, including setting up a permanent electoral commission to oversee future elections and referendums. As reported by the Irish Times, a majority of assembly members voted in favor of the proposition that when there are more than two options on the ballot in a constitutional referendum, the outcome should be decided by “ranked choice voting" (RCV).

Ireland currently only allows its citizens to vote once at a referendum. On the day of the referendum, voters can go to polling stations where they can find information on what the referendum is about and instructions on how to vote. If the House of the Oireachtas considers the recommendation to use ranked choice voting for a constitutional referendum, it will be similar to the way Irish voters already vote for Parliament and presidential elections. It would allow referendums that don't present simple binary choices. (Prince Edward Island held such a ballot question with RCV in 2016.)

Ireland uses ranked choice voting in multi-winner districts to elect its Parliament. Reaffirmed strongly in an earlier vote of the Assembly, this fair representation system allows voters to cast their ballot by numbering their candidates 1,2,3, etc in the order they prefer them, avoiding "spoilers" and ensuring majority rule with fair representation. Ireland also uses ranked choice voting to elect its president; elected for a seven year term. The next Irish presidential election is scheduled to take place in November 2018.

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