June 7 – LWV First FridayNashville

June 8 – People’s ConventionMemphis

June 12 – League of Women Voters First Friday Part 2 – Nashville

June 15th – Juneteenth Celebration tabling event- Memphis

Ranked Choice Tennessee will host events across the state of Tennessee throughout the month of June.

June 19 – Voter education Community Pie Chattanooga

June 22 – Voter Education and Engagement Knoxville

June 22 – Voter Education Event in Memphis (10 minutes)

June 26-27 – Dem Primary Debate Watch party – Memphis

Letter from the Program Director – May

First, as you may remember, we were supporting a bill in the legislature that would have expressly permitted ranked choice voting in Tennessee. It was a local options bill similar to ones that have passed across the country. While we were able to successfully get the bill thorough one subcommittee in the House, it still has a few more stops in both houses before it becomes law. We will be working over the next few months to reach out to legislators to educate them about RCV and the benefits it can have for Tennessee.

In Memphis, we are still pushing for implementation in 2019, but the powers that be are still trying to put roadblocks in the way. We are working with the Memphis City Council and other stakeholders to ensure that the law is followed and that voters get what they have asked for three times, which is ranked choice voting.

Lastly, in Nashville we suffered a major setback when several of our supportive council members were unable to stay at the meeting until the RCV resolution was voted on, which wasn’t heard until 10 p.m. As a result, Nashville voters will not be able to vote on RCV this August.

That brings us to now, where RCV is still in play in Tennessee, but the major problem is that people, including lawmakers, just need to learn more about it.

We are reaching out across the state to teach people about ranked choice voting, with a specific focus on how the system counts votes. We learned in Nashville that “a little learning is a dangerous thing,” so we are going to make sure that people in this state understand what RCV is and how it works. For a very, very rough draft of what that will look like, you can watch this video.

This is where you come into the picture.

The best explainer video in the world isn’t enough to teach people about RCV. We need to reach out to groups and provide opportunities to interact with the idea directly. We need you to either identify or create those opportunities in your community, then either invite us or become trained as a Ranked Choice Tennessee speaker and lead the presentation yourself. We’re already starting out with an ambitious June calendar of events across the state that are free and open to the public:

June 7 – LWV First FridayNashville
June 8 – People’s ConventionMemphis
June 12 – League of Women Voters First Friday Redux – Nashville
June 15th – Juneteenth Celebration tabling event- Memphis
June 19 – Voter education Community PieChattanooga
June 22 – Knoxville & Voter Education Event in Memphis (10 minutes)
June 26-27 – Dem Primary DebateMemphis

If you can, please make the time to come out and join us at one of these events. You won’t regret it.

I look forward to working with you as we move into this ambitious next phase of our work. After building up our base and educating Tennesseans about RCV, we can work towards local advocacy that will give people across the state the option of using RCV in their elections.

Thank you,

Aaron Fowles



Memphis voters voted in 2008 by an overwhelming margin to use RCV for municipal elections and reaffirmed their preference by voting against two repeal referendums in 2018. RCV would affect each municipal office differently.

RCV Impact on Local Elections

Ranked Choice Voting will impact different elections in different ways.

Mayor and City Clerk

The City of Memphis used to require mayoral candidates to receive a majority of votes in order to be elected. If no candidate received a majority in the general election, a runoff was held. In 1991, Judge Jerome Turner found that runoff elections disproportionately disenfranchised minority voters, who were less likely to make it back to the polls, and eliminated runoffs for citywide elections.

The result is that Memphis now has a plurality system for mayor where the winning candidate does not need to win a majority of votes. RCV would yield a majority candidate from a crowded field with a single visit to the polls. To fully implement the will of the voters as expressed in the 2008 referendum, the consent decree would need to be modified.

Single-member council districts

The seven single-member council districts maintained the runoff requirement after the consent decree. Historically, there is an 80% dropoff between the general and the runoff elections, and that dropoff is concentrated in low-income communities of color. RCV would allow voters to express their preferences with just one trip to the ballot box.


RCV in the superdistricts can be achieved two ways. Under the current charter, the three positions can each be run as a separate RCV election for a single member. Alternatively, the Memphis charter can be amended to create two 3-member districts whose representatives are elected using Single Transferable Vote (a form of RCV) to achieve proportional representation. The second option is far simpler and more democratic, but would require an amendment to the city charter, since the current charter specifically lists the superdistrict seats as being separate. RCV would yield 3 candidates who reflect the diversity of the superdistrict.