Virginia should adopt ranked-choice ballots
This General Assembly session offers an excellent opportunity to repair and improve the democratic process. Two bills—HB2097 and SB1731—allow localities to hold elections using a type of instant-runoff ballot called ranked-choice ballots.
With these ballots, election results have the same benefits as runoff elections, but without requiring a second visit to the polls.
For example, in a three-way race where no candidate gets over 50 percent of the votes, the votes for the last-place candidate are re-allocated to the other candidates based on the second choices marked on his ballots. The one with over 50 percent wins.
- The “spoiler effect” now inherent in three-or-more candidate races will never again torpedo candidates who best represent the majority.
- More candidates will feel free to run because they know they cannot become “spoilers.”
- Voters will feel free to vote for their favorites, even for long-shots, without fear that it will help their least-favorite candidate.
- Citizens will get to hear a larger variety of viewpoints during campaigns.
- Candidates could not win with the support of just a special-interest group, so will want to broaden their outreach.
- Election results will more clearly reveal how the electorate stands on the issues.
- No vote will be “wasted.” Every ballot counts.
- Until ballot-scanning programs are updated, it may take a little longer to announce election results.
- It’s a change, so it may be met with skepticism until voters get accustomed to it.
Please ask your legislators to support these bills, and end the unfair plurality-winner system which has hobbled our voting process for so long.