Voices & Choices

Ranked choice voting gaining traction nationwide

Ranked choice voting gaining traction nationwide

After a successful 2020, ranked choice voting (RCV) is taking 2021 by storm.

Building on last year’s productive adoption of RCV in multiple presidential primaries, a successful initiative campaign in Alaska, and the use of RCV in more than 10 different jurisdictions, some of 2021’s featured uses of RCV include adoption in New York City’s upcoming crowded mayoral primary and in choosing a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia.

Why is the method gaining traction? According to Rep. Don Beyer, sponsor of the Fair Representation Act, it’s because people are realizing that RCV is not actually that complicated.

"It passes the nod test," Beyer said in an Associated Press interview. "If you take two or three minutes to explain it, it makes sense, and you get that nod of recognition."

In the same Associated Press article, titled “I like Ike, but Mike's OK; ranked-choice voting gets a look,” author Matthew Barakat details some of the benefits of the method, including increased civility, representation for politically underrepresented groups, and the elimination of ‘vote-wasting.’

Notably, he points out that RCV—particularly in the Final Four form adopted recently in Alaska—changes the political incentive structure, incentivizing candidates to appeal to the majority of voters and not to the extreme wings of their parties. 

No matter the form of RCV used, this much is clear: RCV has abundant benefits, and it is heartening to see its expansion nationwide.


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