Ranked Choice Voting Sweeps Again on Election Day

Ranked choice voting (RCV) continues to build on its national momentum. It was not only adopted in new cities on Election Day 2023, but it was protected by voters in other places and used in 11 cities across 6 states.

RCV gives voters the option to rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference (1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.) The first-choice selections are tallied. If no candidate has a majority, an automatic runoff is conducted that eliminates the last place candidate and applies their voters' next selection to the results.

The process continues until a single candidate has a majority. The alternative voting method has seen exponential growth in the last few election cycles, and now reaches 54 jurisdictions in the US, which includes two states (Alaska and Maine).

Three cities joined this number on Tuesday, all in the state of Michigan: East Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Royal Oak. East Lansing and Royal Oak voters approved RCV with 52% and 51%, respectively. Kalamazoo voters approved its use with 71% of the vote.

“Election Day 2023 showed once again that voters want ranked choice voting,” said Deb Otis, Director of Research and Policy at FairVote. FairVote has long advocated for RCV's use and has helped expand its growth nationwide.

“American voters are dissatisfied with our politics, and in 27 city ballot measures in a row, they’ve said ‘yes’ to better choices, better campaigns, and better representation."

Minnetonka, Minnesota voters rejected a ballot measure to remove RCV from local elections.  The StarTribune reports that not only are city voters satisfied with RCV, but a larger margin of voters protected it than initially enacted its use.  

Easthampton, Massachusetts already had RCV in place for mayoral races and single winner council elections. Voters expanded its use to include multi-winner council elections on Tuesday.

Eleven cities used RCV in their elections on Election Day, including Boulder, Colorado, which used the voting method for the first time in the city's first mayoral election. But this is not the only use of RCV this month.

Elections will be held in Utah cities on November 21. Ten additional jurisdictions will use RCV for local elections, including Utah's largest city -- Salt Lake City, which will use RCV for the first time to elect its mayor.

Advocates hope the success in 2023 carries over into the presidential election cycle where RCV will be on more city ballots, and at least two ballots for statewide implementation in Nevada and Oregon.