Voices & Choices

Maryland holds hearing on local RCV

Maryland holds hearing on local RCV

On Tuesday February 8th, here in FairVote’s home state of Maryland, the Ways and Means Committee held a hearing for a ranked choice voting (RCV) bill. The legislation would enable local elections in Montgomery County to use RCV or approval voting.

House Bill 362 was presented by Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr from District 17. Carr stated that, “This local bill has unanimously passed the Montgomery County House Delegation for several years, and has the support of our county executive and County Council.” Carr continued that the advantages to this bill included, “encouraging robust policy debates, in which candidates must appeal to voters not just as their first choice, but as a second or third choice, deterring negative campaigning, and, most importantly, resulting in more diversity among elected officials.”  

In her testimony, Carr used the widespread, successful use of RCV as evidence for the necessity of this bill by explaining that, “22 jurisdictions in America, including Takoma Park in Montgomery County used ranked choice voting in their most recent election and 53 jurisdictions expect to use it in an upcoming election.” 

Takoma Park first adopted RCV in 2006. It has been in use since 2007 in all elections for mayor and city council, including for vacancy elections. While it is currently the only jurisdiction in the state to use ranked choice voting, both Montgomery County and Baltimore City have submitted legislation that would enable its use to the General Assembly. 

Maryland is not the only state in the Mid-Atlantic to see the value in RCV. Just South in Virginia, the Republican Party utilized RCV in their nominating convention to determine the Republican candidate for the 2020 gubernatorial race. Glenn Youngkin was nominated, and eventually became Virginia’s first Republican governor in over a decade. Ranked choice voting facilitated the nomination of the candidate with a wide appeal to voters. Yougkin was able to unify the Republican Party in Virginia and earned the support of a wide variety of voters. 

Just north in New Jersey, the Hoboken City Council voted in December to adopt an ordinance, which would let voters choose to use ranked choice voting as soon as the state government passes legislation to authorize it. This piece of legislation was the first of its kind in the Garden State. 

“The movement for ranked-choice voting has been building quickly across the state, and this unanimous decision by the Hoboken council is a testament to the public appetite for RCV.” - Renée Steinhagen, Voter Choice NJ Executive

In Arden, Delaware, 7 residents are elected each year to serve on the Board of Assessors. They are elected in a city-wide election using multi-winner, proportional ranked choice voting. This form of RCV has been used in Arden since the early 1900s and is a shining testament to the success of RCV and the long tradition of proportional representation in the US. 

FairVote continues to press state governments to ensure voters have more voice and more choice. Ranked choice voting is the fastest growing election reform in the country and these states and cities are all examples of its success. RCV makes elections cheaper, better, and more representative. House Bill 0362 is the best choice for Montgomery County and we at FairVote look forward to its passage.

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