Maine does it. Alaska does it. And since 2021, Virginia can do it too, in certain city and county elections. It’s ranked choice voting, which works exactly how it sounds: voters rank their favorite candidates in order. If no candidate wins over 50% of the vote, it triggers an instant run off election. The last place candidate’s votes are transferred to the voters’ second preference. And so on, until someone wins the majority.
Proponents see it as a way to diversify candidate fields, even reduce polarization. It means that the ultimate winner will have a broader base of support, or at least more than 50% of the vote. And it also gives 3rd party candidates more of a fighting chance.
For the past few years, ranked choice voting has been used in Republican party caucuses in Virginia. And this June, Arlington County will be the first Virginia locality to use it, in their county board primaries. If all goes well, Arlington may stand as an example for other cities and counties across the state.
Sitting down with us today is Elizabeth Melson, president of FairVote Virginia, and Sally Hudson, who represents Charlottesville and Albemarle County in the House of Delegates.