Voices & Choices

Ranked Choice Voting in VA-11 GOP Primary: Initial Analysis

Ranked Choice Voting in VA-11 GOP Primary: Initial Analysis

On Saturday, May 7, Republican voters in Virginia’s 11th Congressional District used ranked choice voting (RCV) to nominate Jim Myles as their 2022 candidate for U.S. House. This is the first use of RCV to nominate a congressional candidate in Virginia’s 11th, which comprises most of Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, and part of Prince William County.

This primary builds on the Virginia GOP’s successful use of RCV to nominate now-Governor Glenn Young, Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, and Attorney General Jason Miyares in 2021. Later this month, Republican voters in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District will also use RCV to select their congressional nominee. Virginia Republicans continue to embrace RCV as an efficient, common-sense way to produce strong nominees with broad support – while also incentivizing friendlier campaigns.

In the 11th District primary, candidate Jim Myles earned the most 1st-choice votes, and led through all four rounds of counting. He defeated Manga Anantatmula in Round 4 of counting, with 59% of the vote.

Some key takeaways from the VA-11 primary include:

  • VA-11 voters understood ranked choice voting, and used their rankings. Specifically, 97% of voters expressed their preference between the two final candidates, Jim Myles and Manga Anantatmula. Compared to traditional plurality voting, RCV allowed more voters to have a say when it mattered most. Additionally, there were 1,671 votes cast; in the first round of counting, there were three blank ballots but zero spoiled ballots."
  • VA-11 leaders and voters liked ranked choice voting. As captured in this NBC Washington story, 11th District GOP Chairman offered a simple and positive review of RCV: “The system works.” Knotts went on to say:

“I think it’s a really good way of, A, having consensus and getting past that 50% mark, and B, just making it more of a party that’s unified behind a candidate because everyone had a voice in that candidate.

“When you know that you need to have someone else’s supporters to keep you as their No. 2, a lot of the nastiness kind of goes away.”

FairVote has also heard positive reports from those who attended the primary on Saturday. The vast majority of voters appeared comfortable with RCV, as did the party volunteers who managed the counting of the votes. 

  • The VA-11 counting process was conducted by hand, and went smoothly. Like last year’s Virginia GOP convention that nominated Youngkin, Sears, and Miyares, the VA-11 primary used paper ballots and hand-counting. The successful counting process reflects the ease of RCV election tabulation, which can also be done on all modern election equipment.

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