• Ranked choice voting (RCV) is a voting method that gives voters the freedom to rank candidates in order of preference. It helps ensure the winning candidate has support from the majority of voters. It improves healthy competition and accountability, incentivizing elected leaders to do their jobs better.

    How Ranked Choice Voting Works

    Instead of picking just one candidate, you can rank as many as you like on your ballot, in order of preference 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc..

    If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first choice votes, that candidate wins. However, if no candidate has more than 50% of the first choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and voters who picked that candidate as their first choice have their second choice votes counted. This process continues until a candidate has more than 50% of the votes.

    Watch this 90-second video about how RCV works.


    Ranked Choice Voting:

    • Promotes majority support
    • Provides more choices for voters
    • Increases accountability of elected leaders
    • Minimizes vote splitting
    • Minimizes strategic voting
    • Discourages negative campaigning
    • Encourages broad coalition building
    • Saves money when replacing preliminary or runoff elections
    • Improves voter turnout
    • Increases participation from military and overseas voters
    • Promotes reflective representation


    More Ranked Choice Voting Resources:

     

  • Ranked Choice Voting addresses fundamental problems with how we choose our elected leaders and how we hold them accountable for their job performance, by doing the following:

    • Minimizes vote splitting: RCV significantly minimizes the issue of "vote splitting", also known as the "spoiler effect", where two similar candidates split up the vote allowing the shared opponent to win. This means that

      • More independent candidates can enter tight two-way races without spoiling the election.

      • Voters can choose the candidate they really want without fear of "wasting" their vote.

     

    • Increases accountability of elected leaders: Addressing the spoiler effect makes it possible for a wider variety of candidates to enter elections, and that healthy competition holds all candidates more accountable to work on real solutions to our problems once they are elected.

     

    • Discourages negative campaigning: Politicians want to earn voters second-place votes and don't want to alienate them by attacking their first choice.

     

    • Encourages broad coalition building: Candidates have to builder broader coalitions to win the majority of votes.

     

    • Improves voter turnout: Making elections more interesting and more competitive will draw more voters to turnout (helping to ensure all voices are heard)

     

    • Better expresses voter preferences: A ranked ballot is a more expressive ballot.


    See Benefits of RCV for more ways RCV can improve our elections.

  • Use of Ranked Choice Voting is gaining momentum, and the map below shows were Ranked Choice Voting is used in the United States as of June 2021.

    Map of the US color-coded by how ranked choice voting is used in each state
    Image source

    Examples of where RCV is used for City, Mayoral, Local Level Elections

    • Utah cities and towns: 23 total (in an on-going pilot program).
    • Minnesota cities and towns: 5 total cities, 22 city offices in Minneapolis
    • Approximately half of all 50 states have cities that use RCV.

     

    Examples of where RCV is used for State, Federal, and Presidential Elections

    • Maine: Adopted in 2016 and first used in 2018 for all state and federal primary elections and all general elections for Congress. Extended to apply to the general election for president beginning in 2020 and presidential primary elections beginning in 2024.
    • Alaska: To be used in November 2022 for all state and federal general elections and in the 2024 presidential election.

     

    Examples of where RCV is used for Party Primaries, Caucuses, and Conventions

    •     Indiana Republican Party
    •     Virginia Republican Party
    •     Utah Republican Party
    •     Utah Democratic Party
    •     Minnesota Democratic Party
    •     Oklahoma Democratic Party
    •     Hawaii Democratic Party

     

    For more information about where Ranked Choice Voting is used in the United States, please see:

  • The cost to adopt Ranked Choice Voting in Iowa would not be significant because the voting equipment used in 95% of Iowa counties are already capable of conducting RCV elections.

    Learn about Iowa’s RCV readiness assessment here: 

    https://www.rcvresources.org/iowa-state-assessment

    Compare Iowa’s RCV readiness to other states here: 

    https://www.rcvresources.org/state-assessments

     

    Learn more about voting systems manufacturers in the U.S. and their level of RCV readiness here: 

    https://www.fairvote.org/voting_systems_and_rcv

    A list of voting machines and systems used in Iowa: 

    https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/covotesystem.pdf

    Examples of manufacturers' brochures addressing their systems and RCV:

    https://www.dominionvoting.com/download/rcv/?wpdmdl=67454&masterkey=5f1f590f2ec3b 

    https://unisynvoting.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/OCS-Brochure-8-16-17.pdf

  • For local elections, state legislators, or federal congresspeople

    • Legislation must be passed through the Iowa Legislature or the US Congress.

    For political parties

    • Any party could choose to use ranked choice voting in their party elections.