Ranked-choice Voting

Project leader: Toby Hirsch

What is ranked-choice voting?

Ranked-choice voting, also called instant runoff voting, is an alternative voting system for single-winner elections. It works like this:

Video from the Chamberlain Project Foundation

Voters rank as many candidates as they want. In the first round, all voters' first choices are tallied. If one candidate obtains an outright majority (50%), they are declared the winner. Otherwise, the lowest vote-getting candidate is eliminated and their voters' second choices are tallied. This process is repeated until one candidate reached 50%.

What is SPI's stance on ranked-choice voting?

The Student Policy Initiative is a firm supporter of Ranked-choice Voting for several reasons. RCV forces candidates to appeal to a broader group of supporters so that they can collect other candidates' second choice votes. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to obtain 50% of the vote at any stage. It also eliminates the fear of wasted votes--voters can rank a third-party or independent candidate first while still having their vote cast for their preferred of the two major party candidates. This allows third parties to be legitimate candidates and forces the two major parties to be accountable or face another party gaining traction.

The Student Policy Initiative developed this policy paper on the topic:

RCV Policy Paper