Americans may have different views on politics, but we share a desire for a fair and representative system for electing local, state, and national leaders. This toolkit is designed to guide passionate supporters and give them the necessary tools to become leaders, activists, and organizers to adopt and implement ranked choice voting in their communities. Creating change at any level of government can be a challenge but with this toolkit you can prepare yourself and gain a clear understanding of how you can navigate the opportunities and challenges you will find along the way.
While you are more than welcome to download the entire toolkit and hit the ground running, we at FairVote want to provide support and guidance to all activists working to advance ranked choice voting in their communities. You can also download the toolkit in sections below. As you build your campaign, we would love to hear from you after each section to discuss where you're at, what you’ve learned, and help you strategize moving forward. We appreciate your support and dedication and look forward to joining you on your journey.
This is hard work, and it is going to take time. Stay patient, stay persistent, and remember to have fun. We're here to help along the way.
Before you begin working to bring ranked choice voting to your community, it's important to know what drives you to reform democracy in the first place. This is an exercise to help you write your own story: Why are you passionate about ranked choice voting?
The community assessment portion of the toolkit will serve as a guide to better understand the local climate that you will need to navigate to enact ranked choice voting. There are several facets to consider, including political, legal, and administrative elements. The following sections correspond with these elements and each ask series of questions that should illustrate the ways in which RCV might impact your jurisdiction. The sections will not only evaluate potential impact, but also consider the avenues necessary to change laws and eventually ensure a smooth transition to RCV elections.
Building a movement around ranked choice voting in your community will take a comprehensive communications strategy and a dedicated member of your team to execute that strategy. Developing a message, working with the media, and bringing others into your movement are all important parts of that strategy. At the end of the day though, all of your communications work should in some way advance the political process you are using to adopt ranked choice voting in your community. If you are working on a ballot measure, your endgame is “yes” votes from voters. If you’re using the legislative process, your goal is to put pressure on legislators to act. Keep that in mind as you design your strategy and set communications goals.
This section will serve to help activists develop skills and techniques necessary to build up your effort. A common axiom in organizing is that “relationships are the currency of power.” To build that power in your effort we want to discuss the best practices for building up support at the grassroots and the grasstops.
Blair Bobier is a longtime ranked choice voting activist who is currently working on a campaign in Benton County, Oregon to get ranked choice voting on the ballot. Blair outlined the trajectory of his campaign to date and points out the importance of working with election officials to pass an RCV initiative. Bobier is working with a core team of five people to promote this initiative. In addition, he is working closely with county officials from both the Democratic and Green parties to extend his reach. Bobier offers advice on effective campaign management pulling from his twenty years of experience advocating for RCV.
Steven Hill is a California-based activist who has been an instrumental player in ranked choice voting campaigns across the state. In 1996, Hill launched an initiative to elect the San Francisco council with ranked choice voting instead of switching to districts. Though the voters narrowly decided to return to single winner districts rather than implement RCV, the groundwork for a future campaign had been laid. In 2000, after a mayoral election left San Francisco voters dissatisfied with the two-round runoff system, Hill reintroduced the idea of preferential voting. He went on to lead a successful ballot initiative that established ranked choice voting for the city. In his interview, he highlights the important role played by strategic alliances and endorsements targeting key voting blocs.
The following documents are one-page literature pieces and education resources that you can use or adapt for holding meetings, attending conferences, or hosting events. These resources are meant to communicate the basics. They introduce the benefits of ranked choice voting as the solution to specific problems, tailor to specific audiences, or highlight research on a specific topic. The following resources are intentionally general, but can easily be adapted to include information or statistics specific to your community.
This toolkit includes handouts on the following topics:
Implementing ranked choice voting can be an intimidating prospect for some election officials. That’s why it is important to be communicating with the folks that administer elections in your community early on in your campaign. Before you approach them, please be in touch with someone at FairVote, as we have resources and solutions that we can provide. We can also help you connect election officials with folks who have administered ranked choice voting elections in other communities.