What is Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)?
RCV is an electoral reform that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. These rankings are then used to elect candidates with the broadest appeal.
- Saves taxpayer money by consolidating general and runoff elections.
- Includes more people in elections by allowing voters the ability to voice their preferences in a single election, rather than require them to return for runoffs in which voter turnout is lower in low-income and communities of color.
- Discourages negative campaigning since candidates will be vying for 2nd or 3rd place rankings.
Where is RCV used?
RCV has been approved for voters in future municipal elections in two Southern states and is already used by six more states for overseas and military voters: Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, respectively.
RCV Legislation has passed in two states and is under consideration in six more. Oregon, Utah, California, Maryland, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington, respectively.
RCV is already used for government elections in seven states: California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, and New Mexico.
History of RCV in Tennessee
In 2008, Memphis voters approved RCV for municipal elections by a landslide. RCV was set to take effect in 2011, but the Shelby County Election Commission delayed implementation for another 8 years. In 2018, as the county finally prepared to implement RCV, the Memphis City Council attempted to repeal it with a referendum to amend the city charter. Voters resoundly confirmed RCV by rejecting the repeal.
In early 2019, the appointed state elections coordinator argued against RCV from a technical standpoint, creating chaos and confusion for Memphis and other Tennessee municipalities considering these election reforms, including Nashville.
As the October Memphis Municipal election approaches, the Tennessee General Assembly should confirm the legality of RCV. HB 599 / SB 970 is strictly permissive, simply giving the option to implement RCV.