This year, voters approved ranked choice voting (RCV) ballot measures in all five cities where it was on the ballot - in Austin, Texas; Burlington, Vermont; Broomfield, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Westbrook, Maine. Most passed by wide margins.
Recent RCV ballot measures have a track record of success. From 2016-2021, there were 20 measures to enact ranked choice voting (RCV) on the ballot, including four statewide measures (two in Maine) and 16 measures in cities and counties. Of those, there were 18 victories and two defeats. In the last 13 cities to vote on RCV in 2019-2021, the average margin of victory has been by nearly 30 percentage points. 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. Voters approved Question 2A with 52% in favor. For more information about this ballot measure, follow Ranked Choice Voting for Colorado.
Ann Arbor’s city council approved a measure that asked 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. Prop B passed in a landslide, with 73% voting yes. For more information about this ballot measure, follow Rank MI Vote and read this commentary in the MLive.
The Westbrook city council referred a charter amendment to the ballot after a petition drive. Voters were asked whether to implement RCV in local elections. Single-winner RCV would be used for the majority of local Westbrook races and proportional RCV could be used in races for charter commission. Question 1 passed with 63% in favor. Read this Portland Press Herald news coverage and find out more from the League of Women Voters of Maine.
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.