Ranked Choice Tennessee is a new organization, headquartered in Memphis, that advocates and educates around Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Even though Memphis voters have voted on this issue three times in two record-turnout elections, policymakers at various levels of government are erecting barriers to its implementation. Ranked Choice Tennessee is dedicated to ensuring a smooth and quick implementation of RCV in the 2019 Memphis municipal election. RCTN also advocates for RCV throughout the state of Tennessee.
Ranked Choice Voting, also known as Instant Runoff Voting, is an electoral reform that brings more people into the democratic process while saving time and money. Voters rank the candidates in order of preference and if a candidate does not receive a majority of first-round votes, a runoff is simulated using the second- and third-choice preferences. Unlike traditional runoffs that disenfranchise voters or plurality voting that allows for vote splitting, Ranked Choice Voting preserves majority rule with just one trip to the polls.
Ranked Choice Tennessee is pursuing several avenues to guarantee the use of RCV: passage of a local option bill, collaboration with the Memphis City Council, and advocating for RCV in Nashville.
Similar to Washington, California, and Minnesota, the legislature in Nashville will have the opportunity to give Tennesseans the ability to use RCV if they pass it in a referendum. This bill, SB970, will expressly permit municipalities to use RCV if citizens vote on it. This will bypass all of the obstructionism that Memphians have had to endure from their own city council. Utah recently passed similar legislation with enthusiastic bipartisan support.
Collaboration with the council
Linda Phillips has requested policy guidance from the city council on some aspects of RCV, including the number of rankings, tiebreak procedures, and batch elimination. These and other issues are easy to address. The City Council can and should address these issues in order to implement the will of Memphis voters. RCTN has already drafted suggested policy legislation. It’s up to the Council to act on this.
Nashville and beyond
RCV legislation has been introduced in the Metro Nashville Council. If the council approves, a referendum will be placed on the August ballot. Ranked Choice Tennessee will educate Nashvillians about the mechanics and benefits of Ranked Choice Voting.
Furthermore, Ranked Choice Tennessee looks to expand RCV to communities across that state that stand to benefit from more democratic elections. If you have contacts who are interested in discussing this electoral reform in their communities, please contact us.