Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is an exciting election reform breaking out across the nation, resoundingly adopted by a vote of nearly 75% in NYC last year, and before that by the state of Maine and cities around the country.
RCV makes our elections more inclusive and democratic for everyone. And it levels the playing field, empowering marginalized communities, including voters of color, women and others.
RCV lets you rank your preferences rather than voting for just one candidate. Simply put, if your first choice loses, your vote is automatically transferred to your second choice. This means you never “throw your vote away” by voting for a candidate that represents your values, even if that candidate may be an underdog in the race.
This also makes it impossible for “underdog” candidates or parties to “spoil” the election. This means alternatives to the political establishment can’t be marginalized as “spoilers”. Such alternative parties have advanced the front lines of social progress throughout U.S. history, including the Liberty Party that advocated the abolition of slavery, the Women’s Party that promoted women’s right to vote, the parties of the left advancing economic justice and labor protections, the Black Panther Party challenging white supremacy, and the Green Party advancing an agenda for people, planet and peace over profit.
RCV also prevents community voting power from being split among similar candidates. This may have contributed to Mayor Walsh’s victory in the 2013 Boston Mayoral primary with only 18% of the vote, while 35% of the vote was split among 6 candidates of color. RCV effectively aggregates votes of like-minded candidates, and makes it impossible for candidates to “split the vote” or “spoil the election.”
Because candidates need to appeal to each others’ supporters for second choice votes, RCV discourages negative campaigning, and promotes uniters rather than dividers, racists and demagogues. Since negative campaign ads consume vast quantities of campaign money, RCV also reduces the power of big money to influence elections.
RCV is already being used in the state of Maine. It’s used in over 20 other states for local elections (and military and overseas voting), including Cambridge and Amherst in Massachusetts. It’s also used in many countries around the world including Australia, Ireland, India, New Zealand and Scotland.