ranked-choice voting

Many elections in the United States operate under a “winner take all” system where the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes wins the election. Several states, including Maine and Alaska, conduct elections using a ranked-choice system where voters can rank the candidates in descending order based on preference. This style of voting has several rounds where candidates must reach thresholds to advance to the next round; votes for the candidate receiving the fewest votes in a round are then transferred to a voter’s next preferred candidate until a candidate receives a majority of the votes. Proponents argue that ranked-choice voting offers voters more of a say in elections. Several states conduct their elections this way and are currently advocating the switch to ranked-choice voting.


Alaska voters in 2020 approved a ballot measure adopting a ranked-choice voting system. The measure allowed for open primaries where all voters can vote for all candidates, regardless of political affiliation. Alaska conducted its first statewide election using ranked-choice voting in an August 2022 special election to elect a successor to the former Congressman Don Young (R), who died in office and was the state’s longest and only serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Alaska will conduct its elections for House and Senate in November using ranked-choice voting.


The California State Legislature considered a bill early in March 2022 that would ban any form of ranked-choice voting in any state or local election. California AB2808 was introduced in February but did not advance this year. Several cities in California currently conduct elections using ranked choice voting, such as Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. If AB2808 became law, these cities would see their preferred voting methods prohibited.


Nevada voters will vote on three different ballot measures in the 2022 general election, including Question 3, which asks voters to switch to open primaries in all statewide elections and whether to implement ranked choice voting in the state. Roughly 30% of Nevada voters are nonpartisan voters who cannot currently participate in the state’s closed primaries.


Seattle voters will vote on Propositions 1A and 1B in the 2022 general election, deciding the fate of ranked-choice voting in the city. Proposition 1A would bring a change called “approval voting” where voters can select as many candidates as they wish for each municipal office. Proposition 1B, most similar to ranked-choice voting, will allow voters to rank their choices for municipal offices