Details about Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked choice voting (RCV) makes democracy more fair and functional. It works in a variety of contexts. It is a simple change that can have a big impact.

RCV is a way to ensure elections are fair for all voters. It allows voters the option to rank candidates in order of preference: one, two, three, and so forth.

If your vote cannot help your top choice win, your vote counts for your next choice.

If a candidate receives more than half of the first choices in races where voters elect one winner, that candidate wins, just like in a single-choice election. However, if there is no majority winner after counting first choices, the race is decided by an "instant runoff." The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate as ‘number 1’ will have their votes count for their next choice. This process continues until there’s a majority winner or a candidate won with more than half of the vote.

In races where voters select multiple winners, RCV can serve as a candidate-based form of proportional voting. See also:

Get Involved  Data on Ranked Choice Voting

 

Click on a topic to begin.

As of September 2021, 22 jurisdictions used RCV in their most recent elections, 20 more will use RCV for the first time in November 2021, and at least 50 jurisdictions are projected to use RCV in either their next election or the one following. That represents 2 states, 1 county, and 27 cities outside of Utah, with 23 Utah city councils voting to use RCV and 19 doing so in either 2019 or 2021.

 

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Using Ranked Choice Voting (23 jurisdictions outside of Utah):

  • Maine (state): Adopted in 2016 and first used in 2018 for all state and federal primary elections and all general elections for Congress (all single-winner contests). Extended to apply to the general election for president beginning in 2020 and presidential primary elections beginning in 2024. Elections every even year. 
  • Arden, Delaware: In use for town council elections since the early twentieth century in RCV's multi-winner, proportional form. Used for the seven-seat Board of Assessors, elected at-large.
  • Basalt, Colorado: Adopted in 2002 for mayoral races only with three or more candidates. First used in April 2020. Mayoral elections are every 4 years.
  • Benton County, Oregon: Adopted in 2016 for general elections for the partisan offices of county offices of commissioner (at-large, numbered post) and sheriff. First used in November 2020 and used every November of even years.
  • Berkeley, California: Adopted in 2004 and has been used since 2010 to elect the mayor, city council and city auditor (all single winner contests). Elections every November of even years.
  • Bloomington, Minnesota: Adopted by voters in 2020 to amend the city charter to elect the mayor and city council (local districts, 1 at-large seat, staggered). First city council elections in November 2021. 
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts: Adopted in 1941 in RCV's multi-winner, proportional form. Used to elect nine seats to the city council and six seats to the school board, both at-large.
  • Carbondale, Colorado: Adopted in 2002 for mayoral races with three or more candidates. Not yet used as of 2021.
  • Easthampton, Massachusetts:  Adopted in 2019 for mayoral and all single-seat city council elections. First city council elections are in November 2021.
  • Eastpointe, MichiganAdopted multi-winner, proportional form of RCV for 2019 and 2021 city council elections (at-large for 2 seats) to resolve a federal Voting Rights Act lawsuit. Also used in 2020 to fill a city council vacancy.
  • Las Cruces, New Mexico: Adopted by the city council in 2018 and used since 2019 for all municipal elections, including mayor and council by district. 
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: Adopted in 2006 and used since 2009, in elections for 22 city offices, including mayor and city council in single-winner elections, and some park board and board of estimate seats with proportional form of RCV in multi-winner districts.
  • Minnetonka, Minnesota: Adopted in 2020 to be used to elect the mayor and city council. First city council elections with RCV in November 2021 (at-large by numbered post, staggered)
  • New York City: Adopted in 2019 and used in all city primary and special elections for mayor, citywide offices, borough presidents and city council, starting in 2021 (all single winner contests). Next city council primaries in 2023, then all primarie in 2025.
  • Oakland, California: Adopted in 2006 and used since 2010 for a total of 18 city offices, including mayor and city council (all single-winner contests).
  • Portland, Maine: Adopted in 2010 and used since 2011 for electing mayor. Expanded in 2020 to also apply to city council and school board. Used to elect charter commission in June 2021, including 4 multi-winner seats with winner-take-all rule.
  • San Francisco, California: Adopted in 2002 and used since 2004 to elect the mayor, city attorney, Board of Supervisors and five additional citywide offices (all single-winner contests). 
  • San Leandro, California: Adopted as option in 2000 charter amendment and used since 2010 to elect the mayor and city council (council elected at-large, by numbered post). 
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico: Adopted in 2008 and used since March 2018 for mayor, city council, and municipal judge (all single winner contests). 
  • St. Louis Park, Minnesota: Adopted in 2018 and used since 2019 for mayor and city council races (at-large by numbered post, staggered). 
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: Adopted in 2009 and used since 2011 to elect the mayor and city council (all single winner contests). 
  • Takoma Park, Maryland: Adopted in 2006 and used since 2007 in all elections for mayor and city council (all single winner contests). 
  • Telluride, Colorado: Adopted in 2008 for next three mayoral elections when at least three candidates. Used in 2011, 2015 and 2019.

    To see how RCV is working, visit FairVote's Data on RCV resource page.

Utah Cities Using RCV in 2021 (18 cities)

23 Utah cities and towns opted into a municipal pilot program authorized by the state legislature, including two that used RCV in their most recent elections in 2019. These municipalities will use RCV for city council and mayoral elections in 2021. At-large seats are elected with the winner-take-all form of multi-winner RCV.

  • Bluffdale, Utah: Will use multi-winner sequential RCV for 2 at-large city council seats in 2021.
  • Cottonwood Heights, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor and 2 district city council seats in 2021.
  • Draper, Utah: Will use multi-winner sequential RCV for 2 at-large city council seats in 2021.
  • Elk Ridge, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor in 2021.
  • Genola, Utah: Will use multi-winner sequential RCV for 2 at-large city council seats in 2021.
  • Heber, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor and multi-winner sequential RCV for 2 at-large city council seats in 2021.
  • Lehi, Utah: Will use multi-winner sequential RCV for 2 at-large city council seats in 2021.
  • Magna Township, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for 1 district city council seat in 2021.
  • Millcreek, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for 2 district city council seats in 2021.
  • Moab, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor and multi-winner sequential RCV for 2 at-large city council seats in 2021.
  • Nibley, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor in 2021.
  • River Heights, Utah: Will use multi-winner sequential RCV for 2 at-large city council seats in 2021.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah: Will use RCV for 5 district city council seats in 2021.
  • Sandy, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor and three city council seats (one at-large and two district seats) in 2021.
  • South Salt Lake, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor in 2021.
  • Springville, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor and a single city council seat, and multi-winner sequential RCV for 2 at-large city council seats in 2021. 
  • Vineyard, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor in 2021. Also used RCV for city council in 2019.
  • Woodland Hills, Utah: Will use single-winner RCV for mayor and multi-winner sequential RCV for 2 at-large city council seats in 2021.

The following Utah cities opted into the 2021 RCV pilot program but did not have enough candidates on the ballot to use RCV. 

  • Goshen, Utah
  • Midvale, Utah
  • Newton, Utah
  • Payson, UtahAlso used RCV for city council in 2019.
  • Riverton, Utah

Two Utah cities RCV in 2019, with city councils in both cities voting to use it again in 2021

1st implementations of RCV in 2022-2023 (7 jurisdictions):

  • Alaska (state): Adopted in 2020 to be used in November 2022 for all state and federal general elections and in the 2024 Presidential election. If a special election is needed to fill a vacant office it could be used sooner than 2022.  
  • Albany, California: Adopted by voters in 2020 to institute proportional ranked choice voting for City Council and School Board beginning in November 2022.
  • Amherst, Massachusetts: Adopted charter in 2018 with ranked choice voting and passing implementation statute before projected first use in November 2023.
  • Boulder, Colorado: Adopted by voters in 2020 for elections for mayor, beginning in November 2023.
  • Burlington, Vermont: Adopted by voters in 2021 for city council; to begin in March 2023 (timing contingent on state legislative approval)
  • Eureka, California: Adopted in 2020 and to be used for mayor and city council elections beginning in November 2022.
  • Palm Desert, California: Adopted January 2020 to be used for city council elections, starting in November 2022 as part of a California Voting Rights Act settlement. One district is elected in a single winner election, with the rest of the council electing citywide with proportional RCV.

Presidential Nominations (Democratic party primaries and caucuses*)

  • Alaska: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020
  • Nevada: All early voters in Democratic caucuses in February 2020  
  • Hawaii: All voters in Democratic primary in May 2020
  • Kansas: All voters in Democratic primary in May 2020
  • Maine: All voters in all presidential primaries in 2024
  • Wyoming: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020
* Democratic state parties conduct an RCV tally until all candidates exceeded 15% of the vote statewide and in each congressional district, after which delegates were allocated proportionally. Party decisions about 2024 will be made closer to that date.

Party Elections/Conventions:

The following is a partial list. Minor parties in the United States also frequently use ranked choice voting for internal contests.

  • Delaware Democratic Party: The Delaware Democratic Party used RCV to choose delegates to the Democratic Party national convention, but only in cases where there was a tie because they couldn’t do an in-person second ballot. Votes had to be tallied by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. *Source
  • Democrats Abroad Convention: The Democrats Abroad Convention used RCV to choose delegates to the Democratic Party national convention on May 16, 2020 *Source
  • Indiana Republican Party: The Indiana Republican Party used RCV to nominate its candidate for Attorney General at their virtual convention on July 10, 2020. *Source and *Source
  • Minnesota Democratic Party: The Minnesota Democratic Party used RCV for endorsements for various offices during the the State Convention balloting period from May 26 through May 31, 2020 *Source
  • Nebraska Democratic Party: The Nebraska Democratic Party used RCV to choose State Party Officers, County Party Officers in counties with more than 50,000 people. County party convention dates varied; the deadline to submit ballots for the state convention was June 9, 2020 *Source
  • New Mexico Democratic Party: The New Mexico Democratic Party used RCV to choose District-Level delegates to the DNC on June 13, 2020 *Source
  • Oklahoma Democratic Party: The Oklahoma Democratic Party used RCV to choose Pledged Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) Delegates; district-level delegates; At-Large Delegates and Alternates on June 6, 2020 *Source
  • Utah Republican Party: RCV was used by the Utah Republican Party to determine which candidates advanced directly to the general election and which advanced to the June 30 primary. A candidate who received at least 60 percent support in the final round of the RCV tally advanced alone to the primary; if not, the final two candidates advanced to the primary. Candidates for Congress, Governor, Attorney General, state school board, and state legislature were subject to these rules. This occurred on April 25, 2020 *Source
  • Utah Democratic Party: RCV was used by the Utah Democratic Party to elect party officers and determine which candidates advanced to the June 30 primary.. Races for U.S. House, Governor, National Committee officers, and Party Secretary used RCV. This occurred on April 25, 2020. *Source

  • Virginia Republican Party: The Republican Party of Virginia in 2020 used RCV at several congressional district conventions and to select its party chair at its state convention. In May 2021, the party used RCV at an unassembled state convention with more than 30,000 delegates to choose its nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. *Source

Advisory / Option for Future Elections:

  • Davis, California: Approved by voters in 2006 as an advisory measure for proportional, multi-winner form of RCV. Awaiting state law change for general law cities.
  • Ferndale, Michigan: Adopted by voters in 2004. Awaiting implementation readiness.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: Adopted by voters in 2008, and approved again by voters in 2018. Awaiting implementation readiness. 
  • Santa Clara County, California: Adopted by voters in 1998 as an option for county elections in 1998.
  • Sarasota, Florida: Adopted by voters in 2007, awaiting implementation readiness.
  • Vancouver, Washington: Adopted by voters in 1999 as an option in charter.
  • Utah cities: A local options bill was passed in 2018a, two cities opted in for 2019 and 23 cities in 2021. More cities could choose to  use RCV in future elections, which take place every two years.
  • Virginia cities: Local options bill passed in 2020. Cities can opt in starting in 2022. (State and county arms of both the Republican and Democratic Party used RCV for some party nomination contests in 2020 and 2021.)

For Overseas Voters in Runoffs

  • Arkansas: Adopted in 2005, first used 2006, and  extended to all local runoffs in 2007.
  • Alabama: By agreement with a federal court, used in a special election for U.S. House, 2013; became law for all federal primary runoffs in 2015.
  • Georgia: Adopted in 2021, and will be first used in 2022 for military and overseas voters. 
  • Louisiana: Adopted and used since the 1990s for state and federal general election runoffs; also includes out of state military voters.
  • Mississippi: Starting 2014, agreed in federal court consent decree to use RCV ballots in federal runoffs.
  • South Carolina: Adopted and first used in 2006 for state and federal runoffs.
  • Springfield, Illinois: Adopted in 2007 and first used in 2011.

RCV on Campus

As of June 2021, more than 85 colleges and universities in the United States use ranked choice voting to elect some or all student government positions - often in its proportional form as well as its single winner form. That means that over a million students across the country every year are empowered with more choice and fairer representation in electing student leaders.

Full list of colleges and universities using RCV for student government elections

Private Organizations and Corporations

Recommended by Robert’s Rules of Order for organizational elections conducted by mail, ranked choice voting is used widely among private associations organizations. Probably its highest profile use by a private organization is in awarding of the Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which uses the proportional, multi-winner form of RCV to nominate all major awards categories and the single winner form of RCV for selecting Best Picture. RCV in its proportional form is commonly used by British organizations as well. 

Too many organizations use RCV for a comprehensive list. Here is a partial list of private organizations and corporations using RCV.

Public Elections Internationally

Ranked choice voting is used by every voter in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Malta, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, often with the multi-winner, proportional form of it (“single transferable vote”). RCV also is used in party-run elections and local elections throughout the English-speaking world, including national leaders of the major conservative parties in Canada and New Zealand and major liberal parties in Canada and the United Kingdom.

Examples of uses of RCV include: Australia (federal House of Representatives and nearly all state and local government elections and a multi-winner form of it for senate elections); Ireland (for president and multi-winner form for parliament and many local elections); Malta (multi-winner form for parliament); New Zealand (for mayor and city council in major cities such as Wellington, along with health board elections); Northern Ireland (multi-winner form for regional parliament and most local elections); and Scotland (multi-winner form for all local government elections).  In India, Nepal, and Pakistan elected officials use the multi-winner form of RCV to select their national senates and in the case of India its president. Forms of RCV are also used to elect the mayor of London and president of Sri Lanka.

International election systems

Federal Ranked Choice Voting Legislation

The Fair Representation Act (HB3863) would implement proportional RCV for U.S. House of Representatives elections. The bill includes multi-member districts, ranked choice voting, and independent redistricting commissions. 

The Voter Choice Act (HR5500 / S2939) would provide federal grants to support the cost of local and state governments transitioning to RCV and/or proportional RCV.

The Freedom to Vote Act (S2747) includes the administration of RCV as an eligible activity for funding within the act's State Democracy Promotion Program.

The For the People Act (HB1 / SB1) includes two pro-RCV provisions: one that requires all new voting equipment purchased with federal dollars to be compatible with RCV elections and one to create a GAO study about RCV. [Status: HR1 has passed the House of Representatives]

The Congress Commission Act (HB996) establishes a commission to make recommendations on the size of the House of Representatives and the method by which Members of the House of Representatives are elected.

The Voter Empowerment Act of 2021 (HB2358) would create a study on create a study on the impacts of RCV and its implementation. 

The Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act (HB2070 / SB865) establishes a process for Puerto Ricans to vote on their political status (e.g., statehood), including a provision allowing RCV to be used in such a vote. 

 

RCV Legislation in States

See our state legislation tracker for the status of active state-level RCV legislation.

 

 

Benefits of Ranked Choice Voting

Promotes Representative Outcomes and Majority Rule

Ranked choice voting provides voters with a backup to their vote. It mitigates problems with vote-splitting when more than two candidates run.

In elections with more than two candidates, a candidate can get elected to a top executive office over the strong opposition of most voters. For example, in Maine, nine of the eleven gubernatorial elections between 1994 and 2014 were won with less than 50% of votes, including three with less than 40%. (This was a major factor in Maine voters adopting RCV in 2016 and 2018.)

With ranked choice voting (RCV) for single-winner offices, if no candidate has a majority in first-choices, the candidates in last place will be eliminated one-by-one. If a voter's first choice is eliminated, their vote instantly goes to their second or next backup choice. This avoids vote-splitting and uphold majority rule.

Discourages Overly Negative Campaigning

In non-RCV elections, candidates benefit from mudslinging and attacking their opponent instead of sharing their positive vision with voters. This can lead to increasingly toxic and polarizing campaigns. 

With RCV, candidates also compete for second choice votes from their opponents’ supporters which lessens the incentive to run a negative campaign. In RCV contests, candidates do best when they reach out positively to as many voters as possible, including those supporting their opponents.

Voters in RCV cities report more positive campaigning and greater satisfaction with their elections. See our Research on RCV page for more on evidence of increased campaign civility and voter engagement.

Provides More Choice for Voters

American democracy is strongest when more voices are heard. 

Often, to avoid “vote splitting” in which candidates win with very little support, efforts are taken to limit the number of candidates who compete. This can manifest in several ways.

  • In some places, a low-turnout preliminary election eliminates most of the candidates
  • In other places, restrictive ballot access laws keep out challengers
  • Candidates are sometimes pressured to stay out of the race for fear of splitting the vote with another similar candidate. This can be particularly true for candidates from groups under-represented in elected office, such as people of color and women. 

RCV allows more than two candidates to compete without fear of “splitting the vote” among like-minded individuals.

Saves Money When Replacing Preliminaries or Runoffs

Many local offices are elected in two rounds of elections. In some cases this is a preliminary election which winnows the field to two followed by a general election. In other cases it is a general election followed by a runoff election if no candidate won a majority. 

In either case, the election that takes place on a day other than the general Election Day often suffers from weak and unrepresentative turnout, while raising issues of vote splitting in the first round and the possibility of disenfranchising military and overseas voters. 

With RCV, a jurisdiction can enjoy the benefits of two rounds of voting in a single, more representative, higher-turnout election. This is why single-winner RCV is also known as “instant runoff voting.” 

In this context, RCV can save the jurisdiction a lot of money - the entire cost of a second election - while helping promote majority rule and civil campaigning. This has been the motivation for the adoption of RCV in places like San Francisco (replacing runoffs) and Minneapolis (replacing primaries).

See our Research on RCV page for more on the benefits of RCV over two-round runoffs.

Promotes Reflective Representation

In multi-winner contests, proportional RCV allows diverse groups of voters to elect candidates of choice. This promotes diversity of political viewpoint as well as diversity of candidate background and demographics. Even in single-winner races, RCV can promote the representation of historically under-represented groups.

See our Research on RCV page for more on reflective representation in single-winner contests.

See our proportional RCV section for details on how RCV improves representation in multi-winner contests.

Minimizes Strategic Voting

Voters should be able to vote for candidates they support, not just vote against candidates they oppose most. In elections without RCV, voters may feel that they need to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” because their favorite candidate is less likely to win. 

With RCV, voters can honestly rank candidates in order of choice. Voters know that if their first choice doesn’t win, their vote automatically counts for their next choice instead. This frees voters from worrying about how others will vote and which candidates are more or less likely to win.

Increased Participation from Military and Overseas Voters

Protecting the right to vote for men and women serving overseas in the armed forces or living abroad is of the highest importance. Deployed military and other overseas voters encounter particular challenges during runoff elections and presidential nominating contests, largely because of their timing. 

Federal law requires states to provide military and overseas voters with ballots at least 45 days before any federal election, but runoff elections require a new set of ballots. Sending a second set of ballots requires an enormous delay, driving down turnout in the runoff election. 

In presidential primaries and caucuses, many candidates withdraw quickly after the first few primaries, before military and overseas ballots can be counted. Subsequent primaries may receive military and overseas ballots cast for candidates no longer in the race because those voters mailed their ballots before learning that their favorite candidate left the race.

With RCV ballots, a military or overseas voter can rank the candidates on a single ballot. If a runoff occurs, or if candidates drop out of a presidential contest, the ranked ballot is counted for whichever candidate in the runoff the overseas voter ranked highest. 

Six states use RCV ballots to include overseas and military voters in federal and some state runoff elections: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. In addition, Springfield, IL has adopted this reform for local races. 

For more information, see FairVote's Policy Guide for RCV ballots for military and overseas voters.

CCD_Grid.jpgHow RCV Works

Ranked choice voting (RCV) describes voting systems that allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference, and then uses those rankings to elect candidates who best represent their constituents.

RCV is straightforward for voters: rank candidates in order of choice. Voters can rank as many candidates as they want, without fear that ranking others will hurt the chances of their favorite candidate. 

How the votes are counted depends on whether RCV is used to elect a single office, like a mayor or governor, or whether it is used to elect more than one position at once, like an at-large city council or a state legislature elected in a multi-winner district. 

 

RCV for Single-Winner Offices

(also known as Instant Runoff Voting / IRV)

For a single office, like for a mayor or governor, RCV helps to elect a candidate who reflects a majority of voters in a single election even when several viable candidates are in the race. Ranked choice voting is a way to ensure elections are fair for all voters. It allows voters the option to rank candidates in order of preference: one, two, three, and so forth.

If your vote cannot help your top choice win, your vote counts for your next choice.

In races where voters select one winner, if a candidate receives more than half of the first choices, that candidate wins, just like in any other election. However, if there is no majority winner after counting first choices, the race is decided by an "instant runoff." The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate as ‘number 1’ will have their votes count for their next choice. This process continues until there’s a majority winner or a candidate won with more than half of the vote.

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RCV for Multi-Winner Elections

(also known as Single Transferable Vote / STV)

Ranked choice voting can be used in multi-winner elections, like a city council elected at-large, a state legislature elected in a multi-winner district, or even the US House of Representatives. In that setting, RCV can serve as a candidate-based form of proportional voting. See our page, How Proportional RCV Works

For details on how this could work to transform the U.S. House of Representatives into a much more effective and representative body, see the Fair Representation Act.

 

https://fairvote.app.box.com/embed/s/vehdac0y3ngoqke1yh5x127r7xsn57zb?sortColumn=date&view=list8005500

 

Daniel Newman, President and Co-Founder of MapLight, has an innovative way to educate voters about election reform issues: he wrote a graphic novel about them.

In July of 2020, Newman released Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy. Through comics, he examines how plurality elections drive polarization and fail to adequately represent voters. He demonstrates how ranked choice voting, paired with multi-member districts, can improve representation and ease partisan tensions. 

Above are examples of comics from the book. 

RCV 101

1. What is ranked choice voting?

2. How does ranked choice voting work?

3. Is ranked choice voting the same as instant runoff voting / single transferable vote / preference voting / the alternative vote?

4. Why is RCV better than the way we vote now?

5. Where is RCV used?

6. How can I get involved?

Advanced RCV Course

7. Can I vote for only one candidate if I want to?

8. What happens to my favorite candidate if I rank a second choice?

9. Is RCV non-partisan?

10. What kind of candidates win RCV elections?

11. Should I try to vote for the most electable candidate or the candidates I really want?

12. Does RCV require a majority to win?

13. What are "inactive" or "exhausted" votes?

RCV in Practice

14. How does RCV affect voter turnout?

15. How well do voters understand how to use RCV?

16. Do voters like RCV?

17. How does RCV affect under-represented groups?

18. How much does it cost to implement RCV?

19. Does RCV affect the way candidates conduct their campaigns?

20. Have other jurisdictions in the U.S. used RCV historically?

RCV and Other Election Methods

21. How does RCV compare to other “alternative” voting reforms, like Top Two, party list proportional representation, cumulative voting, approval voting, or others? Does it matter which election method is used?

22. Does RCV satisfy the monotonicity criterion?

23. How often does RCV elect the Condorcet winner?

Legal Questions

24. Is RCV constitutional?

25. Does RCV treat all voters equally?

26. What have the courts said about RCV?

 

 

 

1. What is ranked choice voting?

Ranked choice voting (RCV) is a way to ensure elections are fair for all voters. It allows voters the option to rank candidates in order of preference: one, two, three, and so forth.

RCV works because it:

  • Promotes more representative outcomes and upholds majority rule
  • Discourages negative campaigning
  • Provides more choices for voters
  • Saves money when replacing preliminary or runoff elections
  • Promotes reflective representation
  • Minimizes strategic voting
  • Increases participation from military and overseas voters

See Benefits of RCV for more ways RCV can improve our elections.

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2. How does ranked choice voting work?

With RCV, each voter ranks the candidates in order of choice: their favorite candidate first, their second-favorite candidate second, and so on.

In single-winner RCV, a candidate needs more than 50% of the votes in order to win. If a candidate receives more than half of first choices, they win in the first round. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and any voter who picked that candidate as ‘number 1’ will have their vote count for their next choice. This process continues until a candidate wins with more than half of the votes. 

The process is similar for the proportional form of RCV in multi-winner districts, but the threshold for winning a seat is lower. For example, if a city is electing 4 people to their city council, each candidate must earn more than 20% of the vote to win a seat. 

See How RCV Works for more info on how ballots are counted.

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3. Is ranked choice voting the same as instant runoff voting / single transferable vote / preference voting / the alternative vote?

Yes. There are a number of alternate terms for ranked choice voting. 

Single-winner RCV is also known as:

  • Instant runoff voting (IRV)
  • Alternative voting
  • Preferential voting or preferential majority voting

 Proportional RCV is also known as: 

  • Single transferable vote
  • Proportional representation
  • Hare system
  • Choice voting

There are other approaches to ranked choice ballots, including:

  • Borda count (point system)
  • Condorcet voting (methods comparing each candidate to every other candidate)
  • Sequential RCV (multi-winner elections with a series of IRV elections)

 

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4. Why is RCV better than the way we vote now?

RCV has a number of benefits over the way most Americans vote now. Benefits include: 

  • Rewarding candidates who can combine first choice and broad support
  • Promoting representative outcomes and majority rule
  • Incentivizing more positive campaigning
  • Providing voters with more choices without "spoilers"
  • Promoting more inclusion

For more detail, see Benefits of Ranked Choice Voting.

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5. Where is RCV used?

RCV is currently used statewide in Maine, Alaska and in more than 50 U.S. counties and cities, with more adopting it every year. It is also used in countries around the world, such as Ireland and Australia. 

See Where is RCV Used for the most up-to-date list. 

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6. How can I get involved?

We’re thrilled you want to get involved in the campaign for RCV! The best way to get started is to sign up with the RCV organization in your state.  If there is no organization in your state, you can sign up for our email list and check out our activist toolkit to learn what you can do to help advance RCV in your community.

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7. Can I vote for only one candidate if I want to?

You’re welcome to rank as many or as few candidates as you like. Every voter's ballot initially counts only for its top choice, no matter how many other candidates were ranked. Voting for just one candidate is known as “bullet voting” and it means that if your first choice is eliminated, your ballot would become “inactive” or “exhausted” and would not count in future rounds.

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8. What happens to my favorite candidate if I rank a second choice?

Ranking other candidates will not harm your first choice. Your vote will count for your first choice candidate unless they are eliminated during the round-by-round count. Your second choice will only count if your first choice is eliminated. Your second choice acts as a “backup choice” in case your favorite candidate doesn’t get enough support.

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9. Is RCV non-partisan?

RCV is a non-partisan reform which gives voters more voice and more choice in our elections. RCV benefits voters more than any one political party because it promotes majority support and creates incentives for candidates to reach out to a larger audience of voters, rather than just one political base.

In multi-winner RCV, it also becomes possible for Democratic or Republican voters who live in a district with the opposite majority to gain representation. As long as the Democratic or Republican population is equal to or greater than the threshold to win, people can gain representation where they currently feel left out. See the Fair Representation Act to learn how multi-winner RCV for the U.S. House of Representatives can move us away from our hyper-polarized winner-take-all system which leaves many voters unrepresented.

A 2016 FairVote report explores how RCV might reduce legislative polarization by allowing space for moderate, conservative, liberal and other voters to elect candidates in proportion to their overall numbers in the electorate. Evidence for Cambridge, Massachusetts, which uses multi-winner RCV, indicates that candidates and city councilors are not highly polarized there. 

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10. What kind of candidates win RCV elections?

Candidates do best in RCV elections when they attract a strong core of first-choice support while also reaching out for second and even third choices. Candidates win when they appeal to the greatest number of voters. RCV prevents candidates from winning by only appealing to a small base of voters. 

RCV will not elect a candidate who is “everyone’s second choice” because a candidate with little or no first-choice support would not advance past the first elimination round.

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11. Should I try to vote for the most electable candidate or the candidate I really want?

The best strategy under ranked choice voting is to vote honestly; rank your favorite candidate first, your second-favorite second, and so on. Ranking a second choice can never hurt the chances of your top choice. 

A concern with vote-for-one plurality elections is that they encourage voters to think strategically, rather than honestly, when voting. In the United States, most high-profile elections devolve into contests between two frontrunner candidates, with all other candidates shamed as “spoilers” if they are allowed to participate at all. Voters must either vote for one of the “lesser of two evils” or forgo their opportunity to have a voice in the question of which of the two frontrunners will win. Two-round runoff elections mitigate this somewhat, but they add an entire extra election in order to do so, and even then they are vulnerable to strategic manipulation.

Ranked choice voting largely resolves this issue. Voters who prefer a non-frontrunner candidate can honestly rank that candidate first. If that candidate is in last place and cannot win, the candidate will be eliminated and those voters’ ballots will be added to the totals of their next choice candidates. 

Importantly, ranking a second or later choice will not harm a voter’s top choice. A voter’s second choice is not even considered unless their first choice is in last place, and therefore is eliminated. This effectively removes any incentive to vote dishonestly. It also means that candidates have no incentive to discourage their supporters from ranking other candidates after them. 

Consequently, the strategic incentives are to rank candidates in order of choice - the very thing that makes every vote strongest and makes the system most responsive to voters.

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12. Does RCV require a majority to win?

In contrast to plurality voting, RCV requires a candidate to have majority support to win a single-winner office. If no candidate has a majority of first choices, then the candidate in last place is eliminated, and votes for an eliminated candidate are added to the totals of their next choices. This process continues until a candidate has a majority of the votes in a round.

Just as in two-round runoff elections, the candidate who wins needs only a majority of the votes in the final round of counting, rather than a majority of votes cast in the first round of counting. Some people cite this fact as a drawback of RCV, a claim which elevates semantics over substance. A voter who chooses not to rank all candidates on a ballot is equivalent to a voter in a two-round runoff system who cast a vote in the first round but did not return to the polls to vote in the runoff. In runoff elections, no one requires that the winning candidate in the runoff election must earn more than half the number of votes cast in the first round. For instance, in the 2018 federal primary runoff elections in Texas, eight candidates won in the runoff round with fewer votes than they earned in the first round. If voters choose not to participate in the second round of elections, they are ordinarily not considered part of the denominator for purposes of identifying a candidate with majority support. 

The only way RCV could guarantee that a candidate wins with a majority of all votes cast would be to require that every voter rank every candidate, taking away voters’ right to abstain. Barring that, RCV promotes majority rule better than either single-choice plurality or two-round runoff elections.

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13. What are “inactive” or “exhausted” votes?

An inactive or exhausted ballot is one which counted for a candidate in the first round, but was not part of the final round of counting. A ballot can become inactive for any of the reasons below.  

  1. The voter chose not to rank all candidates, and all ranked candidates are eliminated during the round-by-round count. This is known as voluntary abstention, and it is by far the most common source of inactive votes. 
  2. Election administrators limited the number of rankings the voter could provide, such as limiting voters to three rankings, and all ranked candidates are eliminated during the round-by-round count. This is known as involuntary exhaustion. 
  3. The ballot contains an error which disqualifies it, such as ranking multiple candidates at the same ranking or skipping multiple ranks. This is known as ballot error. It is the most rare source of inactive ballots, as ballot error rates are consistently low under RCV. See our Data on RCV page for more on the rate of ballot errors.

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14. How does RCV affect voter turnout?

Evidence shows that RCV elections have often been generating relatively high voter turnout, but the full impact of RCV on voter turnout is still not well established. 

Most places which adopt RCV have switched from a two-round system to a single election with RCV. Primary elections and runoff elections frequently have very low turnout, and so RCV can improve turnout substantially by consolidating primary and runoff elections into a single higher-turnout general election. 

In general elections, turnout is most strongly driven by competitive campaigns, media attention, and other characteristics independent of the election method. These make it difficult to control for the impact of RCV itself.

Learn more about the effects of RCV on voter turnout on our Data on RCV page.

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15. How well do voters understand how to use RCV?

Voters overwhelmingly report a strong understanding of RCV in surveys. Analysis of ballots in RCV jurisdictions demonstrates that voters overwhelmingly do rank their choices and make few errors in doing so.

Learn more about voter understanding on our Data on RCV page.

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16. Do voters like RCV?

Yes, voters in RCV jurisdictions report high levels of satisfaction with the method. For example, after Maine’s first RCV general election in November 2018, 61% of respondents were in favor of keeping RCV or expanding use of RCV. After Santa Fe’s first use of RCV in 2018, 94% of voters reported feeling “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their use of RCV. In Portland, Maine, in 2020, voters voted to expand RCV to all of their municipal elections, with 81% in favor, after having used RCV to elect their mayor since 2011.

Learn more about voter satisfaction on our Data on RCV page.

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17. How does ranked choice voting affect under-represented groups?

Research has shown that RCV can improve representation for women and people of color, both on the ballot and in elected office. RCV can be used to eliminate primary and runoff elections, both of which have lower and less representative turnout. It is more welcoming to candidates, allowing all candidates to participate on a level playing field without fear of being shamed as a “spoiler.” It also encourages a more inclusive campaign style, wherein candidates are rewarded for seeking back-up support among all voters outside their base.

See the Representation section on our Data on RCV page for more.

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18. How much does it cost to implement RCV?

RCV impacts election costs in a number of ways that can vary from place to place. Any jurisdiction that uses RCV to eliminate an entire round of voting (a primary or runoff cycle) will almost certainly save substantial costs by doing so. Those that switch to RCV without eliminating a round of voting will probably incur modest costs in making that transition. For example, in 2007, the city of Cary, North Carolina saved $28,000 by using RCV and thereby avoiding a runoff election.

The costs of elections derive from a variety of sources, including the number of polling places and their hours, the number of paid poll workers, the cost of voter education campaigns, and much more. Most of these costs remain fixed irrespective of the voting method being used.

When Maine’s RCV ballot measure was certified in 2016, it was estimated that it would cost about $1.5 million. However, actual implementation in 2018 cost less than 10% of that amount. According to the Maine Secretary of State: “The additional cost to conduct ranked-choice voting in the primary election came to $102,653” (for statewide implementation).

The largest source of costs to switch to RCV is often the costs associated with upgrading voting equipment. However, the latest voting equipment from the largest vendors all can run RCV elections without substantial additional costs. In other words, if a jurisdiction uses voting equipment that cannot run RCV elections, it probably uses legacy equipment that will need to be upgraded soon anyway. In this context, RCV does not really impose the extra cost, though it may impact the timing of when the cost is incurred.

The Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center publishes a guide to assessing the costs of ranked choice voting, available at www.rankedchoicevoting.org/budgeting

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19. Does RCV affect the way candidates conduct their campaigns?

Candidates in an RCV election must appeal to a broader range of voters – including their own core supporters and supporters of other candidates – in order to win. Candidates tend to run more positive campaigns because they have less incentive to make negative statements about their opponents, knowing such negativity risks alienating supporters of that opponent.

Read more about more-positive campaigning on our Data on RCV page.

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20. Have other jurisdictions in the U.S. used RCV historically?

Nearly all modern jurisdictions that have passed RCV in the United States still use it. Over the last 50 years, 23 local jurisdictions have adopted RCV and only four have repealed it. The most recent repeal took place in 2010. Evidence suggests that voters in jurisdictions using RCV support it and want to continue using it.

Challenges to RCV – in the courts or on the ballot – are often mounted precisely because RCV works. Typically, a repeal effort follows when the system is new, when a candidate loses in a close election, and in which there was some issue unrelated to RCV that voters are unhappy about. 

Below is an overview of jurisdictions that historically used RCV but no longer use it.

  • Ann Arbor, MI repealed RCV after a single use, when the system led to the election of its first African American mayor in 1975.
  • Pierce County, WA repealed RCV in 2009 after a significant use in 2008 and a minor use for county auditor in 2009, when federal courts upheld the top two system, which became the default system in all Washington elections.
  • Aspen, CO repealed RCV in 2010 after a single use, after election administration difficulties led to an expensive lawsuit.
  • Burlington, VT repealed RCV in 2010 after two uses, both of which elected the same mayor. The repeal effort was seen as a referendum on their mayor, the only person who had ever won election under the system, following a scandal unrelated to RCV.
  • Two cities in North Carolina adopted RCV under a statewide pilot program in 2007-2009 -- Cary and Hendersonville. Cary used RCV once and then did not renew its use of the pilot program. Hendersonville used RCV twice and then the pilot program itself expired, forcing them to return to their prior method of election.
  • More than twenty U.S. cities used multi-winner RCV in the early 20th century, including New York, NY and Cincinnati, OH. All but one repealed RCV by the 1960’s. Multi-winner ranked choice voting, also known as single transferable vote (STV), and in certain contexts as proportional representation (PR), saw remarkable success in the United States in the middle of the 20th century, partially built on the success of STV systems in Ireland, where STV adoption began in 1919. The movement was closely allied with the progressive movement of the time and had a number of successes. However, a backlash in the 1940’s leveraged RCV’s success in electing diverse identities and viewpoints in order to create insecurity and ultimately push for repeal. Of the early-20th-century RCV cities, one has maintained continuous use (Cambridge, MA) and one has since passed RCV again (New York, NY).

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21. How does RCV compare to other “alternative” voting reforms, like Top Two, party list proportional representation, cumulative voting, approval voting, or others? Does it matter which election method is used?

While no voting system is perfect, we believe RCV is the best option, especially for political elections. 

First, RCV has a long history of success in political elections around the world, demonstrating that it offers more than simply a theory; it works well in practice. 

For comparisons with other single-winner methods, see this excellent blog post by Greg Dennis of Voter Choice Massachusetts: 

How is RCV better than Approval, Score or Condorcet voting methods?

See this chart for how single-winner RCV compares to other single-winner voting methods in terms of evaluative criteria. 

When it comes to multi-winner methods, multi-winner RCV is the right choice for American elections because it promotes fair representation while being candidate-focused, rather than party-focused like some proportional representation methods used around the world. The American tradition of voting for individual candidates instead of political parties is one which we believe should be preserved. 

A key advantage of RCV is that it works well for both single-winner and multi-winner elections. For jurisdictions with a mixture of single-winner and multi-winner races, RCV offers the simplicity of using a uniform voting method across the board.

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22. Does RCV satisfy the monotonicity criterion?

The monotonicity criterion for ranked voting states that ranking a candidate lower can never help them, and ranking a candidate higher can never hurt them. 

For an election to have a non-monotonic outcome means that a different candidate might have won if some number of voters had ranked that winning candidate lower. Any voting method in which votes are counted in rounds has some possibility of a non-monotonic outcome, including two-round runoff elections and RCV. However, RCV makes any exploitation of this possibility for strategic purposes nearly impossible.

To understand how this could work in an RCV election, let’s start by examining a hypothetical case in a two-round runoff election in which two candidates will advance to the final round. A voter could choose to vote strategically if they felt confident that: 

  1. their favorite candidate would advance to final round, and 
  2. the race for the second spot in the final round would be a very close race between a candidate who might defeat their favorite candidate and a candidate who would probably lose to their favorite candidate.

The voter may try to help their favorite candidate win the general election by voting for the weaker opponent in the preliminary election. If their assumptions are true and their choice to not vote for their favorite candidate in the first round truly helped that candidate win in the later round, that would be a non-monotonic result in a two-round runoff system. 

For this property to influence voting, it is not enough that (1) and (2) are true; the voters would also have to know they are true. 

We have not identified any RCV election in which any group of voters has attempted to exploit the possibility of non-monotonicity for strategic purposes. Doing so successfully would require a highly unusual set of circumstances and a detailed and accurate understanding of how the electorate will rank the candidates. Because this is prohibitively difficult, the issue of monotonicity under RCV is largely academic - it has never had any impact on any RCV campaign and is unlikely to have any impact in the future. 

There is one known case of a possibly non-monotonic result in a U.S. RCV election which depends on how strictly one defines the criterion -- the 2009 mayoral race in Burlington, VT. Learn more about this election on our Data on RCV page.

See this chart for how single-winner RCV compares to other voting methods in terms of evaluative criteria.

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23. How often does RCV elect the Condorcet winner?

A Condorcet winner is a candidate who would win a one-on-one matchup against every other candidate in the race. Ranked choice voting does not guarantee that the Condorcet winner will win, but in practice RCV does almost always elect the Condorcet winner if one exists. 

Of the hundreds of RCV races in the U.S. since 2004, there is only one public RCV election we have identified in which the Condorcet candidate lost: Burlington’s 2009 mayoral election. Learn more about this particular election on our Data on RCV page.

In the rare situation in which RCV does not elect the Condorcet winner, that necessarily means that the Condorcet winner attracted too little core support to come in either first or second in the final round of counting. 

See this chart for how single-winner RCV compares to other voting methods in terms of evaluative criteria.

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24. Is RCV constitutional?

Yes. The U.S. Constitution is silent as to the method of election for federal, state, and local races. As long as a voting method is not discriminatory and meets some fundamental tests, it is constitutional. 

RCV has routinely been upheld in court, including by a federal district court in Maine and a unanimous three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit court of appeals. 

The following cases, in order from most to least recent, all have upheld RCV against federal constitutional claims:

  • Baber v. Dunlap, 1:18-cv-465 (D.Me. Dec. 13, 2018) (upholding RCV in Maine)
  • Dudum v. Arntz, 640 F.3d 1098 (9th Cir. 2011) (upholding RCV in San Francisco)
  • McSweeney v. City of Cambridge, 665 N.E.2d 11 (Mass. 1996) (upholding RCV in Cambridge);
  • Minn. Voters Alliance v. City of Minneapolis, 766 N.W.2d 683 (Minn. 2009) (upholding RCV in Minneapolis)
  • Stephenson v. Ann Arbor Bd. of Comm'rs, No. 75-10166 AW (Mich. Cir. Ct. Cnt'y of Jackson 1975) (Michigan district level court upholding RCV in Ann Arbor)

The legal question of whether RCV treats every voter equally, or “one person one vote”, has come up several times. Every court that has examined the issue has recognized that RCV treats every vote equally. 

For example, in a unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit in Dudum v. Arntz wrote:

In fact, the option to rank multiple preferences is not the same as providing additional votes, or more heavily-weighted votes, relative to other votes cast. Each ballot is counted as no more than one vote at each tabulation step, whether representing the voters' first-choice candidate or the voters' second- or third-choice candidate, and each vote attributed to a candidate, whether a first-, second- or third-rank choice, is afforded the same mathematical weight in the election. The ability to rank multiple candidates simply provides a chance to have several preferences recorded and counted sequentially, not at once.

640 F.3d 1098, 1112 (9th Cir. 2011).

The Supreme Court of Minnesota reached the same conclusion in Minn. Voters Alliance v. City of Minneapolis, writing:

Nor does the system of counting subsequent choices of voters for eliminated candidates unequally weight votes. Every voter has the same opportunity to rank candidates when she casts her ballot, and in each round every voter's vote carries the same value.

766 N.W.2d 683, 693 (Minn. 2009).

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25. Does RCV treat all voters equally?

Yes, all voters are treated equally. RCV is a “one person, one vote” system. 

In the first round, ballots are only counted for first-choice preferences. In the second round, if a voter’s first choice is still in the field, their ballot continues to count for their first choice. If a voter’s top choice has been eliminated, their ballot counts for their next choice. A ballot never counts as a vote for multiple candidates at the same time. 

Under single-choice plurality, if a voter does not vote for a frontrunner candidate, their vote can feel wasted because it has no power to impact the outcome. RCV ensures that every voter retains exactly one vote for as long as they have a preference among the viable candidates.

This point can be illustrated by comparing RCV to two-round runoff elections. If a voter selected Candidate A in the first round but Candidate A does not advance to the runoff, the voter may vote in the runoff election and select Candidate B instead. That voter did not have an extra advantage because they got to support their second choice in a two-round runoff. Similarly, a voter in an RCV election may do the same when their first choice candidate does not advance to the next round. 

The fact that RCV treats every vote equally has been recognized by every court that has examined the issue. See Is RCV Constitutional above for details on those rulings.

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26. What have the courts said about RCV?

Court decisions involving RCV generally fall into three categories:

  1. Federal opinions upholding RCV against federal law challenges
  2. State opinions affecting RCV based on state law
  3. Cases upholding the use of RCV as a remedy in a Voting Rights Act challenge.

Every time a federal court has heard a challenge to RCV, it has upheld RCV against that challenge. Here is a list of federal court cases upholding RCV:

  • Hagopian v. Dunlap, 1:20-cv-00257-LEW (D.Me. Aug. 14, 2020) (upholding RCV in Maine)
  • Baber v. Dunlap, 1:18-cv-465 (D.Me. Dec. 13, 2018) (upholding RCV in Maine)
  • Maine Republican Party v. Dunlap, 1:18-cv-00179-JDL (D.Me. May 29, 2018) (upholding the application of RCV to partisan primaries in Maine)
  • Dudum v. Arntz, 640 F.3d 1098 (9th Cir. 2011) (upholding RCV in San Francis

Most state courts have upheld RCV. Although there have been a few instances of state courts limiting RCV because of some conflicting language in their own state constitutions, all such opinions have either been purely advisory or are no longer good law. This section is divided into cases upholding RCV and opinions limiting RCV. Here is a list of state court cases upholding the legality of RCV:

  • Maine Senate v. Secretary of State, 2018 Me. 52 (Me. April 17, 2018) (Per curiam) (upholding RCV’s application to Maine’s primary elections)
  • State of New Mexico v. City Council of Santa Fe, Case No. D-101-CV-2017-02778 (N.M. County of Santa Fe, 1st Judicial Dist. Nov. 30, 2017), petition for stay denied, No. S-1-SC-36791 (N.M. Jan. 9, 2018) (upholding RCV in Santa Fe)
  • Minn. Voters Alliance v. City of Minneapolis, 766 N.W.2d 683 (Minn. 2009) (upholding RCV in Minneapolis)
  • McSweeney v. City of Cambridge, 665 N.E.2d 11 (Mass. 1996) (upholding RCV in Cambridge)
  • Stephenson v. Ann Arbor Bd. of Comm'rs, No. 75-10166 AW (Mich. Cir. Ct. Cnt'y of Jackson 1975) (upholding RCV in Ann Arbor)
  • Moore v. Elec. Comm'rs of Cambridge, 309 Mass. 303, 35 N.E.2d 222 (Mass. 1941) (upholding RCV in Cambridge)
  • Johnson v. City of New York, 9 N.E.2d 30, 33 (N.Y. 1937) (upholding multi-winner RCV in New York City)
  • Reutener v. City of Cleveland, 141 N.E. 27, 32 (Ohio 1923) (upholding multi-winner RCV in Cleveland)

There is no good case law striking down or limiting RCV. There have been a total of only four negative court opinions, which typically turn on unique provisions of particular state constitutions and not on the value of RCV. Further, all are either purely advisory (not a holding or a binding opinion) or they are very old cases that rely on state constitutional provisions that have since been removed from the relevant state constitution. Here are those opinions:

  • Op. of the Justices, Docket No. OJ-17-1 (Me. Feb. 2, 2017) (advisory opinion) (opining that RCV cannot be used in general elections for governor or state legislature in Maine due to the ‘plurality’ language in Maine’s state constitution)
  • Op. to the Gov., 6 A.2d 147, 149 (R.I. 1939) (advisory opinion) (opining that multi-winner RCV for Providence violates the Rhode Island Constitution)
  • Devine v. Elkus, 211 P. 34, 39 (Cal. Ct. App. 1922) (striking multi-winner RCV in Sacramento as violating now-defunct provisions of the California Constitution)
  • Wattles v. Upjohn, 179 N.W. 335, 342 (Mich. 1920) (striking multi-winner RCV in Kalamazoo as violating now-defunct provisions of the Michigan Constitution)

Forms of fair representation voting have been used to remedy vote dilution lawsuits brought under the Voting Rights Act since the 1990s. The first use of multi-winner ranked choice voting as such a remedy occurred in 2019 in Eastpointe, Michigan. To date, there have been three court cases in which ranked choice voting was approved as a potential remedy:

  • Salas v. City of Palm Desert, PSC-1903800 (Cal. Sup. Ct., 2019) (approving RCV as part of a remedy in California Voting Rights Act case)
  • Huot v. City of Lowell, Case No. 1:17-cv-10895-DLC (Consent Decree) (D.Mass. 2019) (approving of four plans as remedying a Voting Rights Act case, two of which use multi-winner RCV to remedy the violation)
  • United States v. City of Eastpointe, Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-10079 (TGB) (E.D. Mi. 2019) (approving RCV to remedy Voting Rights Act case)

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