Posted by Emily Risch on September 25, 2019 at 11:33 AM

Reps. Jamie Raskin and Don Beyer, Lead Sponsors of New Ranked Choice Voting Act, and State Reform Leaders Mark Momentum for “Ranked Choice”

Ranked Choice Voting Act takes ranked choice nationwide for all congressional primary and general elections

National--FairVote hailed the introduction of the Ranked Choice Voting Act (HR 4464) by Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and a group of House colleagues, and marked momentum for ranked choice voting, on a joint press call with Rep. Raskin, co-sponsor Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08) and state reform leaders and advocates from around the country. 

The Ranked Choice Voting Act would require states to adopt ranked choice voting (RCV) in primary and general elections for Congress beginning in 2022. It would also authorize federal funding to help states implement this change, including adapting equipment if necessary and conducting voter education. 

RCV will already be used for congressional elections in Maine and in dozens of state and local contexts, ensuring that winners will be elected with majority popular support but without time-consuming and expensive runoff elections which regularly generate lower turnout. 

“We applaud Congressman Raskin and his colleagues for their leadership,” said FairVote president and CEO Rob Richie. “Our cities and states show that ranked choice voting makes democracy work better for everyone. HR 4464 gives voters more options, avoids unfair outcomes, and allows voters to choose the candidates they like the most without risk of helping elect candidates they like the least. Let’s give all voters a stronger voice by enacting the Ranked Choice Voting Act.”

“It makes me proud to introduce this legislation to make America’s elections fairer, more positive, more efficient, and more representative,” said Congressman Jamie Raskin about the Ranked Choice Voting Act. “Our legislation will ensure that candidates who are elected to Congress are the ones who have most successfully assembled a majority of voters. It will also lift up the voices of a much broader cross-section of the voting public, because voters who prefer less popular candidates in the first round of voting can still play a role in forging a majority for the ultimate winning candidate. It will also make our campaigns far more positive. Instead of trying to win votes by denigrating their opponent, candidates will have an incentive to flatter other candidates to win over their supporters.

“Ranked choice voting can play a significant role in addressing our hyper-partisan, polarized political environment by discouraging negative campaigning and promoting majority support” said Congressman Don Beyer about the bill. “At a time when democracy is in jeopardy and approval of Congress is at an all-time low, this is the kind of bold idea we need to reduce the polarization in our politics that prevents common sense solutions from becoming law. Instituting ranked choice voting for all U.S. Senate and House elections and primaries would put voters back in charge and make our Congress function efficiently and we should pass it.”

Rep. Beyer, and Maine’s Chellie Pingree (ME-01), California’s  Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Scott Peters (CA-52), Massachusetts’ Jim McGovern (MA-02), Joe Kennedy (MA-04), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Joe Kennedy (MA-4), New York’s Kathleen Rice (NY-04), and Tennessee’s Jim Cooper (TN-05) and Steven Cohen (TN-09) are among the original cosponsors of the legislation. 

National groups backing the bill include Campaign Legal Center, Represent.Us, Third Way, RepresentWomen, One Nation One Vote, and the Election Reformers Network. On the call (listen to the 30-minute call here), state reform leaders and advocates also delivered updates from the ground of the growing use of RCV for elections at the federal, state and city level: 

“Kansas Democrats are excited about ranked choice voting in our 2020 presidential primary” said Vicki Hiatt, Kansas Democratic Party Chair. “As I’ve traveled the state to introduce this process, voters have consistently stated that ranked choice voting is more fair and empowers them as voters.”

“Utah cities are opting to use ranked choice voting, and we are looking forward to our first ranked choice voting elections this November,” said Rep. Marc Roberts (R-UT). “We’re excited to keep doing everything we can to advance ranked choice voting in Utah.”

“Maine will have high-stakes, competitive races for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and President in 2020,” said Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine. “We are lucky to be able to count on ranked choice voting to ensure majority support for the winner of those key contests.” 

“We are on target to meet our goal of collecting 120,000 signatures to place a ranked choice voting ballot measure on the November 2020 statewide ballot,” said Christina M. Knowles, Director of Strategic Partnerships of Voter Choice for Massachusetts. “Our campaign is out in full force, excited to educate voters and win their support over the next fourteen months.”

“The movement for ranked-choice voting in New Mexico has grown tremendously in terms of support from legislators at the local and state level and engagement from the advocacy community,” said Maria Perez, FairVote New Mexico founder. “We see that our democracy is getting stronger, and elections are getting more competitive.”

“Last week we kicked off our campaign for a ranked choice voting ballot measure with a broad cross section of New Yorkers--from the business community, to labor, to New American and African American community members and more,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY and representative of Rank the Vote NYC coalition. “We are excited to bring ranked choice voting to all New York City offices for special and primary election, because New Yorkers deserve elections that lift up our voices, and push candidates to campaign better.”

Ranked choice voting is on the move in many other states. Michelle Whittaker, head of RCV Maryland and board member of RepresentWomen, added: “We’ve seen ranked choice voting work at the local level in Maryland and excitement is building as we see communities across the country embrace RCV. Elections that better reflect all of us drive women, people of color, and young voters to work together to make this a reality for our elections.”

Notable developments include:

  • This month, Maine became the first state to use ranked choice voting to decide Electoral College votes in the general presidential election in 2020, and will allow RCV for presidential primaries starting in 2024.
  • Four state Democratic parties (in Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas and Wyoming) plan to have voters cast RCV ballots in their party-run presidential primaries in 2020. Voters can rank their favorite candidates in order of choice and then those ballots will be tallied like a traditional RCV tally until all remaining candidates have at least 15% support, at which points delegates will be allocated on a proportional basis according to party rules. 
  • Last week, advocates in New York City launched the “Rank the Vote NYC” campaign as New York City voters will decide in November whether to adopt ranked choice voting to elect their mayor and other offices, starting with the 2021 elections.
  • Eleven cities are using ranked choice this November, with the five newest cities from a cross-section of states: Utah, Michigan, New Mexico and Minnesota.

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FairVote is a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans. 

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