Voices & Choices

New Zealand Cities Voting to Implement Ranked Choice Voting

New Zealand Cities Voting to Implement Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked choice voting (RCV) is used in a number of countries, both as a means to uphold majority rule (when electing one office) and as a fair representation system representing more voters in multi-winner elections. RCV is used by all voters for at least one election in Australia (1 see notes below), Ireland (2), Malta (3), New Zealand (4), along with single-winner for, Northern Ireland (5) and Papua New Guinea (6). RCV has important uses for picking leaders in Canada (leaders of the major parties), India (indirect elections for its national senate and president), and United Kingdom (picking leaders of most parties and several big city mayors).

A growing number of cities in New Zealand are moving to RCV, a method for electing local candidates -- generally in multi-winner elections as a candidate based form of proportional representation and as single-winner majority system for mayor. The New Zealand government has a helpful page on RCV, which is generally called “single transferable vote” in the country. Wellington, the second largest city and capital of New Zealand has used RCV to elect its mayor,  councilors, and community board members since 2004. RCV is also used for all elections across the country for the “health boards” elections, balloting relating to the national health care law. Councilor Len Houwers, a strong supporter of the RCV voting method, noted it “... was more democratic than [plurality voting] and had been used by District Health Boards since 2004”; a recent analysis showed that  about three in four voters in New Zealand cities with RCV rank more than one candidate.

Last month, Tauranga City councilors agreed for the first time in history to adopt RCV, which will change the way the mayor and councilors are elected in the 2019 and 2022 local elections.  New Plymouth District Council also has decided to adopt RCV. New Plymouth voters will rank their favorite council candidates in the 2019 and 2022 elections, rather than just selecting one person on the ballot. In addition, in Northern New Zealand, the Kaipara District Council recently decided to continue using a RCV voting system after considering whether to replace it.


  1. In both single winner and multi-winner form for its national legislature and most regional and local ones

  2. Multi-winner form for national legislature and most localities and single-winner form for president

  3. Multi-winner form for its national legislature, where turnout is often tops world rankings

  4. In multi-winner for for health board elections and several cities

  5. Regional legislature and local government

  6. National legislature


Photo Disclaimer: Image of New Plymouth, one of the cities that adopted ranked choice voting


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