Election Day Victories for Ranked-Choice Voting

November 2, 2021 was a big day for ranked-choice voting (“RCV”) in the United States. RCV made its debut in several Utah cities, was instrumental in nominating victorious candidates in pivotal statewide races in Virginia, and won approval in new ballot measures across the country.

RCV Makes Its Debut in Several Utah Cities

RCV made its debut in 21 municipalities in Utah after the Utah Legislature passed HB75 this year, expanding their RCV pilot program.[1] According to local officials, the inaugural elections went smoothly: “It went really well,” said Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen. “Voters didn't seem to be confused by it, I think, because of our explicit instructions on our ballot.”[2] A survey of voter opinions on the new system is scheduled for later this month.[3]

RCV in Virginia

Perhaps the most significant race to employ RCV was the closely-watched gubernatorial race in Virginia. This race saw the victory of moderate Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, who was nominated by RCV at the Virginia GOP’s statewide convention. When candidates have the opportunity to secure second- and third-choice votes, they are incentivized to refrain from unfair attacks and extreme rhetoric, and parties are incentivized to put their support behind more broadly-palatable candidates, which is arguably what happened at the GOP.[4] This paid off for the GOP on election day. APVotes reports that Youngkin's efforts to distance himself from the more extreme members of his party helped him to appeal more broadly to swing voters in Virginia's suburbs.[5] Voters were also more likely to feel that Youngkin's opponent, McAuliffe, had engaged in negative, unfair attacks.[6] Victorious GOP candidates Winsome Sears for Lieutenant Governor and Jason Miyares in the Attorney General’s race were also nominated using RCV. This election helps illustrate how RCV can aid in healing the polarization that has plagued American politics in recent years.

Voters Approve RCV for Future Elections

Three new municipalities passed ballot measures adopting RCV for future elections. In Westbrook, ME, 63% of voters elected to adopt RCV. This makes Westbrook the second city in Maine to adopt RCV, after Portland.[7] Broomfield, CO passed RCV with bipartisan support, making it the first city in the state to approve use of RCV for all municipal elections.[8] Finally, Ann Arbor, MI overwhelmingly approved RCV for city elections, with the measure garnering 73% of the vote.[9] These cities will be three of nine jurisdictions currently set to implement RCV for the first time in elections in 2022-2023.[10]

Join the RCV Movement

Rank My Vote Florida is thrilled to see the victories and momentum for RCV across the country. The success of grassroots efforts nationwide helps bring RCV into the national consciousness, and every election victory brings us one step closer to getting RCV implemented in our own state.

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[1]   Kyle Dunphey, "21 municipalities debuted ranked choice voting programs — how did it go?," KSL.com, Nov. 3, 2021 https://www.ksl.com/article/50276045/21-municipalities-debuted-ranked-choice-voting-programs--how-did-it-go?fbclid=IwAR1XqOExY93BBFMjnMbZND5dXELyFVPTXKAV-NrxPtPteaVGr2ZYuyt1WnU

[2]   Sonja Hutson, "Utah county clerks say ranked-choice voting elections Tuesday went smoothly," KUER 90.1, Nov 3, 2021, https://www.kuer.org/politics-government/2021-11-03/utah-county-clerks-say-ranked-choice-voting-elections-tuesday-went-smoothly

[3]   Hutson, "Utah county clerks say ranked-choice voting elections Tuesday went smoothly,"

[4]   Raymond J. La Raja and Alexander Theodoridis, "How ranked-choice voting saved the Virginia GOP from itself," The Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/how-ranked-choice-voting-saved-the-virginia-gop-from-itself/2021/11/05/6d1aa738-3dc2-11ec-8ee9-4f14a26749d1_story.html

[5]   Sara Burnett and Hanna Fingerhut, "AP VoteCast: Youngkin win built by small gains in key groups," AP News, Nov. 3 2021, https://apnews.com/article/virginia-election-ap-votecast-survey-75520c5c9a245bee384526abc138a61a

[6]   Burnett and Fingerhut, “AP VoteCast: Youngkin win built by small gains in key groups."

[7]   Kelley Bouchard, "Westbrook voters approve ranked-choice voting in municipal elections," Portland Press Herald, Nov 2, 2021, https://www.pressherald.com/2021/11/02/westbrook-voters-consider-ranked-choice-voting-in-municipal-elections/

[8]   Trish Zornio, "Broomfield passed ranked choice voting, what does that mean for Colorado at large?," The Colorado Sun, Nov. 8, 2021, https://coloradosun.com/2021/11/08/broomfield-ranked-choice-voting-opinion/

[9]   David Meyers, "Ranked-choice voting racks up more wins on Election Day," Fulcrum, Nov. 4, 2021, https://thefulcrum.us/Elections/Voting/ranked-choice-voting-elections

[10] FairVote, "Where Ranked Choice Voting is Used," https://www.fairvote.org/where_is_ranked_choice_voting_used