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What It Is

Ranked Choice Voting (“RCV”) ensures that candidates with the best ideas – not the biggest bank accounts – have a fair shot at running and winning.

In most elections today, you pick one candidate. With Ranked Choice Voting, you can rank candidates in the order you prefer them — 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on. If your 1st choice can’t win, your vote instantly counts toward your backup choice.

Ranked Choice ballot example
RCV is a simple, fair, and easy way to enable more voices and provide more choices for Michigan voters.
RCV ensures the winning candidate has majority (more than 50%) support and that similar candidates can’t split the vote or “spoil” the election.
Instead of picking just one candidate, RCV allows you to rank any or even all the candidates on your ballot — ensuring every vote matters.

How It Works

In Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), voters rank as many candidates as they want in order of preference. This improved voting method gives voters more freedom, more expression, and more power. Instead of picking just one candidate, a voter has the option to rank their candidates in order of preference — 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on.

RCV is a simple change to the ballot that enables a better voter experience, better campaigns, and ultimately, better government.

How to Win Under Ranked Choice Voting

Ballots are counted in “instant runoff rounds” where contestants receiving the fewest top-choices are eliminated and their supporters’ ballots are then counted toward the next choice indicated on each.

This process “consolidates” the voting power of like-minded voters, no matter how many candidates are running, rather than seeing the strength of their votes diluted and divided between multiple similar candidates. It means no more “spoiler problem”, so more candidates with a variety of backgrounds or ideas can run without worrying about distorting the outcome of the election.

These rounds repeat until one candidate has the support of more than half of the voters. Because winning requires a broad majority of support, candidates need to earn their opponents’ supporters’ 2nd and 3rd choice votes on the ballot. This encourages them to find common ground and talk about the substance of issues, rather than mudslinging — which alienates voters.

Why It Matters

People are fed up with toxic politics and unresponsive, gridlocked government dominated by powerful special interests. Grassroots leaders across the country are organizing to solve the source of the problem — our flawed election system.

Our current “pick-one” plurality election system punishes voters with “wasting their vote” if they choose their actual favorite and don’t use their ballot to support a “front-runner” candidate or one from the two major parties. It lets unpopular politicians win by allowing candidates to be elected even when the majority of voters oppose them. This system, known as “first-past-the-post” voting, makes elections toxic by incentivizing candidates to beat down their opponents and exaggerate differences, missing opportunities to reinforce areas of agreement that unify the electorate and create consensus for getting important things done after the election.

Ranked Choice Voting is a simple but powerful solution that gives people a stronger voice and more choice when they vote.

For the first time ever, a voter now has the power of backup choices. This means that if their favorite (1st choice) cannot win the election, their vote instantly counts toward their next choice. This type of power helps voters succeed.

As a voter, with Ranked Choice Voting, you can always vote for the candidate you truly love without the fear of “throwing your vote away”. Even if your favorite is not a front-runner, you have backup choices, so your vote is never wasted, and your voice is always heard.
Ranked Choice Voting

Video Explainer

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This video was originally produced to educate New York City voters about their Ranked Choice Voting system. RCV systems can give voters the option to rank more than five candidates – theoretically any number.