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Why Consider Ranked-Choice Voting?

Ranked choice voting.

It’s become a hot topic among those who want to see a better way to choose nominees and winners for political office.

According to the Committee of Seventy, ranked choice voting, or RCV, is an electoral system in which voters rank every candidate in order of preference instead of voting for just one candidate. Votes are redistributed according to preference until a candidate has over 50 percent of the vote in single-winner elections or more than the threshold percentage of votes in multi-winner elections.

There are presently three states that use ranked choice voting – Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine – says Ballotpedia. Another 11 states contained jurisdictions that had implemented RCV at the local level. Another four states contained jurisdictions that had adopted but not yet implemented RCV in local elections.

Cities such as New York City, San Francisco, Boulder (Colo.), Cambridge (Mass.), Minneapolis and Saint Paul (Minn.) have RCV in place. Imagine if Philadelphia had implemented RCV in time for its 2023 Democratic mayoral primary?

With five candidates – Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker, Rebecca Rhynhart, Allan Domb and Jeff Brown – each likely to receive 10 percent or more of the vote Tuesday, it is hard to foresee a scenario where one achieves a majority or even a plurality of the votes cast. In fact, according to Mustafa Rashed, a political consultant uninvolved in any of the campaigns, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the winning percentage could be as low as 25%. If the turnout ends in the high 200,000s or low 300,000s, that figure would end up at approximately 75,000 votes.

That would be the lowest raw vote total of any Philadelphia mayoral candidate since at least the 1970s and possibly farther back.

1971: Frank Rizzo (49%), William J. Green III (35%)
1975: Rizzo (55%), Louis G. Hill (43%)
1979: Green (52%), Charles Bowser (43%)
1983: Wilson Goode (53%), Rizzo (43%)
1987: Goode (57%), Ed Rendell (42%)
1991: Rendell (49%), Lucien Blackwell (27%)
1999: John F. Street (36%), Martin Weinberg (31%)
2007: Michael Nutter (37%), Tom Knox (25%)
2015: Jim Kenney (56%), Anthony Williams (26%)

The aforementioned Committee of Seventy as made available a public, non-scientific, survey tool simulating RCVin the upcoming primary election for mayor. Try it for yourself here.

5 Responses

  1. RCV is pushed by GOP because they will try anything to win or confuse the voting. So somebody gets 49% and the next gets 27%, but you need to do a runoff between those 2? Crazy idea.

    1. With rank choice you don’t need run-offs, because multiple rounds of voting are built in using the preferred order voters pick their candidates.
      You don’t do a run-off if there are two candidates. I’m your scenario, A gets 49%, B gets 27% (meaning those are the first choices of voters). For candidates C, D, E.. Z, who lost, you eliminate the lowest one, and add their 2nd choices as votes for remaining candidates.
      So, if B was ahead of A for all the candidates that picked C-Z first, B would win with 51% after 2 dozen rounds of calculations by computer calculations.

      The Republicans don’t want this because ranked choice would have made Hillary and Gore winners.

  2. Ranked choice voting and open primaries would be beneficial to Philadelphia





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