An article published in Better Government by Joann Wong explores the merits of ranked choice voting (RCV) as an important election method for improving democracy. Here is an excerpt:
What is Ranked Choice Voting? How does it work?
Most of the elections in the United States are plurality elections, or “first past the post”: whichever candidate has received the most votes wins, irrespective of the vote share. This means that sometimes candidates can win without receiving a majority of the vote.
Ranked choice voting is an electoral system that allows voters to rank candidates by preference (i.e., first choice, second choice, and so on). The votes are counted in rounds based on the first choice listed on each ballot. If one candidate has received a majority of the votes (over 50 percent) after one round of counting, the race is over. If not, then a second round of counting commences. The candidate with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated, and their votes are reallocated to the voter’s second choice candidate. These rounds continue until one candidate has a majority. This system is similar to a two-round or runoff electoral system, but in the case of RCV, voters only need to take one trip to the polls. (NCSL).
What are the pros of such a system?
As the chasm between Democrats and Republicans has grown wider and ever more contentious, proponents of RCV have touted its potential for reducing negative campaigning. They argue that because the system incentivizes second- and even third-place rankings, candidates would need to appeal to a broader base of voters; denigrating an opponent and their platform (and, by extension, their voter base) is no longer a viable campaign strategy. This shift in campaign strategy towards prioritizing voters might also serve to lessen the influence of monied interests.