Voices & Choices

With RCV, Texas voters could have had their representation months ago after a single round

With RCV, Texas voters could have had their representation months ago after a single round

On May 1, 2021 Texas’s 6th congressional district held the first round of a special election after Republican Congressman Ron Wright died on February 7, 2021 of COVID-19. Two Republicans will advance to the runoff after a nonpartisan blanket primary: Susan Wright, Ron Wright’s widow, and Jake Ellzey, a former member of the Texas House of Representatives.

In two-round runoffs, voters are asked to return to the polls and vote a second time if no candidate gets a majority in the first round. Ranked choice voting (RCV) accomplishes the same goal in a single election. RCV would save voters time, and save Texas money.

Furthermore, Texas’s 6th district has become more competitive since the 2012 election, leading to potential “vote splitting”. In 2020, Ron Wright won the district 53% to 44%, and in 2018 Wright won 53% to 45%. In this special election, which had 23 candidates total, Susan Wright received only 19.21% of the vote, and Ellzey received 13.85%. Ellzey finished ahead of Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez for second place by just 354 votes (0.45%). The runoff will take place July 27. 2021.

RCV allows for more than two candidates to compete without fear of “splitting the vote” among like-minded individuals, so a candidate would have passed 50% of the vote without needing to wait all those extra months. It is possible the same candidate would win with RCV as in the runoff, but the process would be improved.

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