Voices & Choices

What is batch elimination and how did it affect Maine’s ranked choice voting races?

What is batch elimination and how did it affect Maine’s ranked choice voting races?

Maine released the ranked choice voting results in its 2nd Congressional District race on Thursday.

No candidate earned a majority of votes in the first round, which necessitated additional rounds needed to ensure a winner with the broadest possible support. However, some expected there would be two elimination rounds rather than one: first, Will Hoar, who had the fewest votes of the four and then, if no candidate had a majority still, a second round taking out Tiffany Bond. So why was there only one round?

Maine decided to include “batch elimination” when it adopted RCV, a practice also used in Ireland and Minneapolis. This means if there are several candidates with such low vote totals that it would be mathematically impossible for any of them to win, they can all be eliminated simultaneously without changing the outcome.

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Batch elimination was also used in Maine’s Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District in June, where Jared Golden also won in an instant runoff. The two last-place candidates combined had fewer votes than any of the others. Neither of them could possibly win, and the order in which they were eliminated did not matter. Batch elimination streamlined what would have been a three-round count into two.

In both cases, batch elimination simplified the count while ensuring the same results and the same protections for majority rule.

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