Freedom and fairness are the foundation of American democracy. Yet, in most elections today, the way we vote limits our ability to express our preferred candidates(s) and can deny a majority of voters fair representation. We can fix this and Montgomery County can lead the way to better voting methods in Maryland.
We Need Better Voting
A history of crowded fields & non-majority winners. In many counties, there is a history of crowded primaries where candidates win with less than half the votes. Recent reforms like term limits and public financing in some counties have opened the door for more candidates. While voters have greater choice, they may fear they are “wasting their vote” on a “spoiler.”
Better Elections Are Possible! Ranked choice voting (RCV, also known as instant runoff voting), is a method of voting where voters rank candidates in order of preference. Every vote counts for the voter’s highest ranked-candidate. How a candidate is elected varies for single-winner and multi-winner races. The winner(s) reflect the preferences of voters.
Why Ranked Choice Voting?
Supports A Reflective Democracy
- RCV promotes majority rule and fair representation.
- Voters can honestly rank the candidate they like without fear that doing so will help the candidate they like least.
- Candidates have incentives to engage with more voters to earn their support, which gives voters more chances to be heard and discourages negative personal attacks.
Works for Single- and Multi-Winner Contests.
Single Winner: Every first choice is counted. If a candidate earns a majority in first choice support, they win just like in any other election. If no candidate has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and voters who ranked that candidate as their top choice have their next choice counted. This continues until a candidate reaches a majority (50%+1).
Multi-Winner: There are multiple ways to count votes. Utah uses RCV for municipal elections, electing one at-large seat at a time and removes a winning candidate from the contest before rerunning the RCV tally to elect the next seat. Another commonly-used approach used in Cambridge (MA) and Minneapolis (MN) is to elect candidates who have a reached a certain threshold based on the seats up for election.