Tags: Voting Rights | ranked-choice voting | effects

5 Effects Ranked-Choice Voting Has on Elections

By    |   Friday, 03 Jul 2015 04:46 PM

Ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, can have some significant effects on the process of elections as well as their outcomes.

In recent years, more and more cities are using the system for local elections while states use it for voters overseas, according to FairVote.

Ranked-choice voting allows electors to number their candidates in preferential order for each position in case a politician does not receive a majority of the electorate’s support.

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Here are some of the effects this form of voting has had.

1. There are more ballot errors.
According to Spur, in San Francisco’s 2011 election in which ranked-choice voting ballots were used, 1.2 percent of the ballots cast were not counted because of errors in voting. This was higher than a normal ballot where electors vote for one candidate.

2. Voter turnout may be lower.
Spur also noted the 2011 race had a 3.2 percent lower turnout than in 2003 and a 2.5 percent lower turnout than in 1999, when the ranked-choice voting ballot was not in use.

3. The person who is the first choice of voters may not win.
If winning with a plurality, or simply winning the most votes without holding a majority, is the typical way in which an election is conducted, ranked-choice voting could result in a completely different outcome as the winner would have to receive some sort of majority support from the electorate.

4. Ranked-choice voting eliminates the “spoiler” or “Nader” effect.
According to The Uptake, by requiring a politician to receive a majority of the votes, people can feel satisfied in choosing a third-party candidate as their preferred choice because it is less likely to help a candidate with an opposing ideology as their vote may be transferred to another preferred candidate if there is not a majority leader.

5. The election features less negative campaigns.
Favor and preference play a larger role in the election, and bashing opponents typically does not contribute to that image, The Uptake reported. Instead, more voices are added to the mix to create a larger discussion.

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Ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, can have some significant effects on the process of elections as well as their outcomes.
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