Policy ImpactsNational

Ranked choice voting is here to stay.

October 14, 2021

2021 has brought a bevy of contemplation and action around electoral policy as lawmakers and election administrators consider how to restore public confidence and enthusiasm for elections. Declining public trust in our political systems and increasing polarization has led to a sustained interest in alternative voting methods, and a recent history of implementation— and support from voters — has prompted interest around the country in trying out ranked choice voting (RCV).

Despite popular narratives, many of the proposed actions and reforms have been brought about through bipartisan coalitions, particularly in state legislatures. A range of proposals around RCV, in blue and red states alike, have instigated unlikely coalitions with support and opposition to RCV resisting the traditional breakdown on left-right lines.

What’s more, the recent exploration of RCV represents a resurgence rather than a novel phenomenon; RCV was used in the United States beginning in the 1920’s, but fell out of favor in the 1950’s when machine tabulation of ballots began. Its renewed popularity stems from the system’s ability to provide voters more choice in elections and widen the pool of candidates for public office, which in-turn boost trust and confidence in the work of elected institutions after an election.

In 2021, more than 30 states have considered some sort of legislation related to RCV, ranging from proposals to study the implementation of RCV for determined locations, to mandating RCV’s use for different types of elections, to prohibitions on its use in certain states, and more. The explosion in interest in RCV, the unlikely ideological coalitions, and the diversity of proposals around its use warrant continued study, consideration, and education around RCV, by and for the public and policymakers alike.

If you are interested in learning more about specific state legislative action around ranked choice voting in 2021, check out this resource developed by the Millennial Action Project. For additional questions, email [email protected]

Rep. Sara Jacobs


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