What is Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)
RCV is an electoral reform that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. These rankings are then used to elect candidates with the broadest appeal.
How does RCV work?
RCV works just like any election that requires a majority to win with exception of one small change: candidate rankings.
But first, let’s talk about how current elections work.
Current Municipal Elections
Most municipal elections require a majority vote to win. This means that candidates must receive 50%+1 of the vote to win during a general election. If no candidate win’s a majority of the vote, then a runoff between the top two popular candidates is triggered 6 weeks after the general election. The top two candidates must continue their campaigning and often need to raise additional funds to do so.
The problem with runoff elections is that turnout plummets. In Memphis in 2015, 65,000 voters participated in the general election in 5 City Council races but only 15,000 showed up for the runoff. It’s not the only place where turnout drops.
How RCV differs from current elections
Under an RCV elections, candidates rank their choices in order of preference. The first candidate to receive 50%+1, a majority, of the 1st place votes win the election. This is exactly the same as current municipal elections.
However, if no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and that voter’s 2nd choice becomes their 1st choice and the total is tallied and repeated until a clear majority winner emerges. RCV is just like a runoff election but it happens instantly.
Memphis voted to use RCV in 2008 but appointed bureaucrats slow walked its implementation for 11 years. Implementation will likely be 2023.
America is better when more people participate in the electoral process. By combining the general election with the runoff election coupled with voter education and outreach, more people have better government representation.
RCV is a method of electing a majority consensus candidate that saves taxpayers money, includes more people in elections and encourages positive campaigning.
And, if you live in Memphis, Tennessee, it’s the law.
How would RCV impact elections in Tennessee?
Most Tennessean advocates want to use RCV in their municipal elections. Taxpayer money could be allocated to voter education and outreach since budgeting for runoff elections would become necessary.