So far this year, voters have already approved two ranked choice voting (RCV) ballot measures - in Austin, Texas and Burlington, Vermont. Both passed by wide margins. Three more RCV ballot measures have been confirmed for the November 2 general election so far, in Broomfield, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Westbrook, Maine.
Recent RCV ballot measures have a track record of success. From 2016-2021, there were 17 measures to enact ranked choice voting (RCV) on the ballot, including four statewide measures (two in Maine) and 13 measures in cities and counties. Of those, there were 15 victories and two defeats. In the last 10 cities to vote on RCV in 2019-2021, the average winning percentage has been more than 65% of the vote. Details of each 2021 ballot measure can be found below.
In Broomfield, the city council unanimously referred a measure to the November 2 ballot on whether to use RCV in local elections. The council’s action came shortly after Colorado’s legislature and Governor Jared Polis approved a bill making it easier for cities to adopt RCV. Several Colorado cities already use RCV, including Basalt and Telluride. For more information about this ballot measure, read our Quick Take and follow Ranked Choice Voting for Colorado.
Ann Arbor’s city council approved a measure that will ask voters whether to bring back RCV for local elections. The city previously used RCV in 1975, when it elected the first and only Black mayor in its history. The referendum will be held on November 2. For more information about this ballot measure, read our Quick Take and follow Rank MI Vote.
The Westbrook city council referred a charter amendment to the ballot after a petition drive. Voters will decide on November 2 whether to implement RCV in local elections. If passed, single-winner RCV would be used for the majority of local Westbrook races and proportional RCV could be used in races for charter commission.
Austinites for Progressive Reform collected more than 24,000 signatures for a series of ballot measures relating to democracy reform, and the city council voted to send the measures to the May ballot. Those included Measure E, which would establish the use of RCV for city elections, with implementation tied to clarification of its legality under Texas law. The Austin Chronicle endorsed Proposition E in an editorial. Austin voters approved Proposition E by 58.6% in favor. For more information about this ballot measure, read this blog by Andrew Allison, chair of Austinites for Progressive Reform.
The Burlington City Council in September 2020 voted to place Question 4 on the March 2, 2021 city ballot to establish RCV for city council elections and replace the current system where a runoff is held if no candidate earns at least 40% of the vote. Better Ballot Burlington led the campaign in support of the measure, with backers including 10 local state legislators, former governor Howard Dean, and the League of Women Voters of Vermont - see this commentary by campaign co-chairs Dean and Zoraya Hightower. Burlington voters approved Question 4, with a winning percentage of 64.4%. For more information about this ballot measure, read our Quick Take.