New White Paper: As Ranked-Choice Voting Gains Favor, Questions Still Remain

Topics: Access to Justice, Government, Leadership, Reports & White Papers, Thomson Reuters


The fundamental right of voting, so central to the underpinnings of democratic nations, is undergoing a bit of a tweak in the United States.

Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) or Instant-Runoff Voting (IRV), which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference and reduces the need for a second-round or runoff election, has been adopted by several municipalities, and even one state for legislative and executive elections.

Still, questions over the viability and impact of Ranked-Choice Voting remain. For example, while some believe RCV leads to higher voter participation and less negative campaigning, others argue it lowers voter turnout because ranking every candidate takes more time and can be more intimidating than simply selecting the single candidate a voter prefers.

In a new white paper, “Still Undecided: As Some Cities & States Adopt Ranked-Choice Voting, Questions Remain” published by Max Milstein, a principal attorney editor for Thomson Reuters, the author looks at the municipalities and states that are considering implementing RCV and examines some of these questions surrounding its implementation, include those of cost, effectiveness and voter education. (Note: This paper has been updated, in part, to reflect the results of Maine’s June 12 primary.)

Indeed, with both Democrats and Republicans warily eyeing any changes to the current voting system, it’s likely that any attempts to implement RCV would result in litigation and possible legislation. “Regardless of the result, election administrators should prepare for resistance and litigation if called upon to implement an RCV initiative,” Milstein writes. “Administrators should also be clear-eyed about potential benefits; many jurisdictions see little in the way of cost-savings, and election-watchers still debate whether RCV increases or decreases turnout.”

To download your free copy of the white paper, “Still Undecided: As Some Cities & States Adopt Ranked-Choice Voting, Questions Remain” click here.