Frequently Asked Questions
What is Ranked Choice Voting?
Ranked Choice Voting is a better system of voting. It gives voters the option to rank candidates in order of preference, which means no more choosing between the lesser of two evils or worrying about wasting your vote.
Why is RCV better than how we vote now?
RCV ensures that the winning candidate has real majority support, encourages candidates to reach out to voters rather than just attacking their opponent, and eliminates the problem of "vote splitting," allowing more candidates to run. It can also save a lot of money - with RCV, there's no need for preliminary elections. Most importantly, Ranked Choice Voting encourages higher voter turnout and more civil engagement from voters.
Must I rank more than one candidate for each office?
You are allowed to vote for one candidate for an office or even no candidate if that is your choice.
Can I write in a candidate's name on my ballot?
Yes, write ins are still available. You can rank a write in just as you would any other candidate.
Does my vote count if I only select one candidate?
Yes. Your vote will still count for the candidate you chose. If you only vote for one candidate, RCV will work the same way as our current voting system. If your chosen candidate receives the fewest votes, they will be eliminated from the running, and your vote will not be counted for any other candidate.
Where is Ranked Choice Voting used?
RCV is used:
Can I give multiple candidates the same ranking?
No. If a voter gives more than one candidate the same ranking, that vote cannot be counted.
Will there be subsequent run-off elections with RCV?
No, Ranked Choice Voting eliminates the need for multiple rounds of voting. It is effectively an instant run-off voting system.
How are Ranked Choice votes counted?
For elections with only one winner, Voters rank candidates from first to last choice. If a candidate receives more than half of the first choices, that candidate wins. However, if no candidate receives over 50% of the vote after counting first choices, the race is decided by an "instant runoff." This means: the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the second choice votes are added to the remaining candidates. This process continues until a candidate wins with more than half of the votes. For a detailed explanation, check out Fairvote's video here:
How much does RCV cost to implement?
When used to eliminate primaries and runoffs, RCV can actually save money! The city of Cary, NC saved $28,000 by adopting RCV. When the state of Maine switched to RCV, it cost $100,000 - that's less than a penny per taxpayer!
How does RCV affect underrepresented groups?
Research shows that RCV can improve representation for women and people of color. Additionally, Ranked Choice Voting eliminates primary and run off elections, minimizing the time that voters need to be available and making it easier for everyone to participate in the election. Fairvote has a wonderful report on this here.
How do I mark my vote on a Ranked Choice Ballot?
How does RCV affect voter turnout?
A study by Professor David Kimball at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Ph.D. candidate Joseph Anthony, finds that, when compared to the primary and runoff elections they replace, RCV general elections are associated with a 10 percent increase in voter turnout. For more data on how RCV can increase voter turnout, check outthisarticle from FairVote.
What kind of candidate is likely to win with RCV?
Candidates do best in RCV elections by attracting a strong core of first-choice support while also reaching out for second and even third choices. RCV prevents candidates from winning by only appealing to a small base of voters - with RCV, you can't win unless you appeal to at least 50% of the voters.
Is Ranked Choice Voting the same as Approval Voting?
No. Rather than ranking candidates in order of preference as with RCV, approval voting lets voters indicate either yes or no for each candidate. Despite having the option to vote for as many candidates as they want under approval voting, voters still tend to vote for only their favorite. This results in nearly the same results as our current system. For this reason, we think Ranked Choice Voting is a better option for Missouri.
For a detailed exploration of the benefits and drawbacks of Approval Voting, check out this excellent article from Fairvote.
What is wrong with our current voting system?
Some of the biggest issues with our current system are:
- Primaries: Early rounds of voting, such as primaries, are plagued with low turnout and little voter engagement.
- Split votes: Candidates outside the two main parties risk splitting the vote with the candidate most similar to them, resulting in both candidates losing even if their shared platform has the most support.
- Run offs: If the election requires a minimum level of support to win, then multiple rounds of voting may be required to reach a conclusion.
- No majority support: Candidates rarely get more than 50% of the vote, especially if more than two candidates run.
- Enables the "Spoiler Scenario": Voters may be afraid to vote for a candidate they really want for fear of splitting the vote and enabling a candidate they oppose to win.
- Limits your choices as a voter: Most elections come down to choosing between two opposed candidates.
- Limits the competition candidates face: When your only competition is one candidate with an opposing platform, it's easier to make personal attacks than to actually build support for your platform.
- Gerrymandering: When elections come down to voting between candidate A and B, parties resort to political trickery like gerrymandering to improve their chances.