What Is Ranked-Choice Voting?

(UnitedVoice.com) – During the presidential primary voting season, it’s not a full-out race from start to finish. Candidates start to see the writing on the wall when it comes to their realistic chances of winning the nomination and drop out. Many states offer early voting via mail-in ballots, how are those who take advantage of this service impacted when their chosen candidate is no longer in the race?

The question people are asking of states like Utah and Colorado is: “do we get a do-over?” The answer is: “sorry, no.” When it comes to participating in the American election system, each voter gets one bite at the apple. So it’s possible that millions of votes were rendered moot when billionaire Tom Steyer, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) exited the race.

Enter the idea of ranked-choice voting. While available to an extent in several states, the state of Maine is the first jurisdiction to enact it into law for all federal and state elections.

Here’s how it works. Instead of simply marking the ballot for a single individual, they rank their preferences as first, second, third, etc., for as many as the measure allows. So, a person’s ballot could indicate:

  • 1st – Buttigieg
  • 2nd – Sanders
  • 3rd – Warren

When a candidate is no longer eligible to receive votes, the process kicks in. So for this hypothetical voter, now that Buttigieg is gone, their vote goes to Sanders.

The intent is to allow someone to support their preferred candidate while allowing people to exclude what they see as a disastrous choice. By allowing voters to pick their favorite candidates in order, ranked-choice voting makes sure that every vote counts.

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