Twelve U.S. cities, including San Francisco, elect officials using a ranked-choice voting system. Next month, Maine will become the first state to apply this system statewide.
Ranked-choice voting is intended to ensure that the winner of an election has majority support from her or his constituents. Maine’s voters adopted this new system after the winner earned at least 50 percent of the vote just two times in the last 11 gubernatorial races.
Ranked-choice voting is a straightforward process. If a candidate earns 50 percent of the vote in the first round, he or she is declared the winner. But things look entirely different if no one candidate reaches the 50 percent mark. "In that case, the candidate with the fewest votes gets eliminated, and those votes are instantly redistributed to the voters’ next choice." According to David Daley, a senior fellow at FairVote, "The 'instant runoff' continues until the winner captures a true majority."
Daley makes the case that ranked-choice voting helps make elections more positive. In fact, in the upcoming San Francisco mayoral race, "two leading contenders actually endorsed each other, a sign of the elevated tone and civility that RCV rewards and recognition that voters can like more than one candidate."
Under most current election processes, political gamesmanship can play a big role and lead to candidates being elected who do not represent the views of a majority of their constituents. With ranked-choice voting, it is harder for candidates who have passionate but limited support to overcome the views of the majority.
Ranked-choice voting has been implemented in the following 12 cities:
- Oakland, California
- San Francisco, California
- San Leandro, California
- Berkeley, California
- Telluride, Colorado
- Basalt, Colorado
- Portland, Maine
- Takoma Park, Maryland
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- St. Paul, Minnesota
- Santa Fe, New Mexico
RCV has been adopted but not implemented in the following six jurisdictions (five cities and one county):
- FairVote, "Voting shouldn't cause dysfunction — but Americans can change the system," May 24, 2018
Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author.
Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of the Rasmussen Media Group. He is the author of "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System," "In Search of Self-Governance," and "The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt." Read more reports from Scott Rasmussen — Click Here Now.
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