Ranked Choice Voting Easy as 1, 2, 3

This November, you’ll have the power to vote in local races that will determine who will represent you and make important policy decisions that affect your life.

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Why Ranked Choice Voting? (RCV)

RCV gives voters the power to rank candidates. In addition to your 1st choice, you are able to select a 2nd and 3rd choice as backups. RCV gives voters more voice and greater choice.

  • You don’t need to vote twice. There is no primary or runoff election, which would mean two separate elections. Instead, you get a winner in a single November election when most people vote.
  • You get winners who earns a majority of the vote when matched against their top opponents. This means the winner is more broadly representative.
  • You always get to vote your favorite first. This allows you to vote for your true preference based on your hopes and values, instead of the fear of “splitting the vote” among candidates you like from the same community.


How to Vote with a Ranked Choice Ballot

  1. Select your preferred candidate and fill in the arrow next to the candidate’s name in the 1st column.
  2. Indicate your 2nd choice. Your ballot will count for this candidate if (and only if) your 1st choice loses. It doesn’t help your 1st choice candidate to rank them more than once or to not rank anyone else.
  3. Rank a 3rd choice. Your ballot will count for this candidate only if your 1st and 2nd choices lose.

_FVCA-RCV-Count.jpgHow to Count RCV Ballots

Here’s how we count RCV ballots in a single-seat race.

Step 1

All 1st choices on the ballots are counted. Did a candidate receive 50%+1 votes? If yes, then they win.

Step 2

If not, the candidate with the fewest 1st choices is defeated. The ballots for that candidate go to those voters’ 2nd choices. (Note: ONLY the defeated candidate’s ballots go to their next choice. Ballots cast for all other candidates continue to count for those candidates.)

Step 3

Did a candidate receive 50%+1 votes? If yes, then they win. If not, repeat Step 2.

Keep going until a candidate reaches 50%+1 votes. A majority can also be reached when there are only two candidates in a race.

The winner earns more than half of the vote. A candidate will win in the first round if they earn a majority of first choices. A candidate will win in a later round if they earn a majority after adding in the votes they have earned from supporters of losing candidates.

Things to remember:

  • Everyone has 1 vote. Ranking your favorite candidate more than once will not help them because your vote will only be counted once for that candidate. 
  • Indicating only one choice or “bullet voting,” does not help your favorite candidate because a 2nd choice only counts if your 1st choice is eliminated.