Virginia Republicans used ranked choice voting (RCV) as a way to choose stronger nominees at their local conventions.
RCV is a powerful nonpartisan tool that helps parties — no matter where they stand on the political spectrum — choose candidates with broad appeal for the general election. Instead of allowing nominees to be chosen with small pluralities of the vote, RCV narrows the field to a consensus candidate whom the party as a whole can support.
Recognizing this, Virginia Republicans have embraced the method in numerous races.
Notably, Republicans used RCV to choose Aliscia Andrews as their nominee for the state’s competitive 10th Congressional District election. RCV made a difference in the race, as Andrews came in third in the first round of counting but secured the nomination in the third round with 57.5 percent of the vote.
(A tweet released by Republican Aliscia Andrews' campaign encouraging voters to rank her first.)
Meanwhile, Republicans in the 11th District used RCV to choose delegates to the Republican National Convention and state central committee. Bearing Drift reports that “the RCV system worked well, as the voting process is easy to explain to delegates.”
“[Ranked Choice Voting] ensures the strongest possible candidate emerges as the nominee and ensures the Republican party remains unified ahead of a very challenging election. Without that unity, without that majority, winning in the fall becomes extraordinarily difficult.”
It is clear, then, that RCV works—and is popular across the political spectrum.
The Covid-19 pandemic provides additional impetus for state parties to expand their use of RCV. Due to the pandemic, delegates to several Virginia Republican conventions were asked to fill out their ballots in their cars.
On the whole, use of RCV is becoming more common throughout Virginia. The state legislature recently passed a bill granting local governments the option of adopting RCV in their elections beginning next year, paving the way for localities to take the lead on improving their elections.
The Arlington County Democrats already use RCV in their primaries, and it has proven so popular that Arlington County might become one of the first Virginia localities to adopt it for general elections.
For officials looking to test RCV in their states, local options bills are a great way to start. They enable local populations to decide for themselves how they want to conduct elections, and allow states to move towards RCV gradually if they choose. Local options legislation has been introduced in 11 other state legislatures. FairVote maintains a list of states and localities that already use RCV, which can be found here.