Ranked choice voting (RCV) is a method of voting in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. Instead of choosing just one candidate, voters can indicate which candidate is their first choice, second choice, third choice, and so on. Ranking allows voters to express a greater level of nuance in their preferences and can help to ensure that the winner of an election has the support of a majority of voters.
Under RCV, if a candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, that candidate wins the election. Suppose no candidate receives the majority of first-choice votes. In that case, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the votes for that candidate are redistributed to the remaining candidates based on the voters’ preference. This process repeats until a candidate receives a majority of votes.
RCV is used in some cities and states in the United States, and it’s most commonly used in primary and special elections where there are multiple candidates.
RCV is often used as an alternative to traditional “plurality” voting systems, which can lead to “spoiler” candidates who split the vote and allow a candidate to win with less than a majority of votes. Ranked choice voting aims to address this problem by allowing voters to indicate their preferences among multiple candidates and ensuring that the winner has support from a majority of voters.