Have questions about Ranked Choice Voting in Ohio? Take a look at the list of questions we compiled below to find the answers.
Still not seeing it below? Feel free to reach out to us here.
RCV favors minority parties, making it easy for them to win.
This is not true. RCV elects a candidate preferred by a majority of voters, regardless of whether that majority prefers a Democrat, Republican, independent, or minor party candidate.
RCV is a mechanism for running an election, and in itself, doesn’t promise to assist any single party or candidate. The question of who benefits most from RCV is ultimately up to the voters to decide on election day. What RCV does guarantee is that whomever emerges as the winner of a contest does so with a true majority mandate backing them, so that they can honestly represent the most constituents. We believe that any party or candidate should satisfy this basic principle of democracy.
RCV gives each voter the freedom to vote for their true first choice without fear that such a vote will help the candidate they like least. It eliminates the "spoiler" effect of our current system where a conservative district, for example, can be represented by a liberal because two conservative candidates split the conservative vote.
RCV is unconstitutional.
Federal courts found no conflict between the US constitution and RCV. Some states have long used run-off elections, and RCV is simply an “instant run-off election.”
The following cases all have upheld RCV against federal constitutional claims:
- Baber v. Dunlap, 1:18-cv-465 (D.Me. Dec. 13, 2018) (upholding RCV in Maine)
- Dudum v. Arntz, 640 F.3d 1098 (9th Cir. 2011) (upholding RCV in San Francisco)
- McSweeney v. City of Cambridge, 665 N.E.2d 11 (Mass. 1996) (upholding RCV in Cambridge);
- Mn. Voters Alliance v. City of Minneapolis, 766 N.W.2d 683 (Minn. 2009) (upholding RCV in Minneapolis)
- Stephenson v. Ann Arbor Bd. of Comm'rs, No. 75-10166 AW (Mich. Cir. Ct. County of Jackson 1975) (Michigan district level court upholding RCV in Ann Arbor)
RCV is too expensive.
When implemented in Maine, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap initially slated the cost of implementing RCV at $1.5 million; Dunlap later shared with the Law Court that the final cost its first use was only $89,000. That is less than $0.08 per voter.
RCV impacts election costs in a number of ways that can vary from place to place. A jurisdiction that uses RCV to eliminate an entire round of voting (a primary or runoff election) will almost certainly save substantial costs by doing so. Those that switch to RCV without eliminating a round of voting will probably incur modest costs in making that transition. For example, in 2007, the city of Cary, North Carolina saved $28,000 by using RCV and thereby avoiding a runoff election.
RCV is too complicated, and will lead to more ballot errors.
The state of Maine implemented RCV for the first time in 2018, and did not see a significant increase in voters making ballot-marking errors. Instead, 90% of Maine’s voters reported their first experience with RCV as “excellent” or “good”. Nationwide, a 2016 study showed that, among 26 cities using Ranked Choice Voting, the adoption of RCV was not associated with any change in the number of overvotes, undervotes or spoiled ballots in those places that used RCV ballots.
A Candidate doesn’t have to stand for anything. They just have to pick up everyones’ 2nd choice vote.
Under RCV, a candidate must have both a depth and breadth of support. Depth is defined as 1st choice votes. You must stand for something to inspire enough passion in voters to vote for you 1st. If you do not get enough 1st choice votes as a candidate, you will end up being eliminated. Therefore, a milquetoast strategy to chase only 2nd or 3rd rankings could actually cost you the election.
Additionally, voters do not need to rank every candidate for their vote to count. They may just rank the candidates they like in order of preference, so an unappealing candidate still has to work for these votes.
The candidate with the best GOTV strategy should be the winner.
The problem is that that base of support may not comprise a majority of voters. We don’t want to elect someone whose base is narrow but fervent, who’s deeply disliked by a majority of voters, and who wins only because there are too many other candidates in the race splitting the vote with one another. (If you’re talking to Democrats feel free to hint that this came to pass in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.) Yes, under plurality the candidate who turns out the biggest base is the one who wins; but perhaps another candidate would have an even bigger base had a “spoiler” candidate chosen not to run.
To note when answering this question: be careful not to make it seem as though having more people vote is a detriment.
RCV “throws your vote away” when your ballot is exhausted.
Under our current system, when a candidate wins with less than 50% of the votes, a majority of the votes are "thrown away."
Under RCV, voters are free to rank as many or as few candidates as they like. When a voter stops ranking, they are saying that they have no preference between the remaining candidates; i.e. if only the remaining unranked candidates were on a plurality ballot, they would not vote in that race. A voter’s ballot becomes exhausted only when the voter ceases to have a preference among the remaining candidates. Their vote isn’t being thrown away; rather the voter is deliberately choosing to no longer have a say should all their higher preferences be eliminated.
RCV is not a condorcet system. If your system doesn't elect the most-liked candidate (the "Utilitarian Winner"), it should at least elect the most-preferred candidate (the "Condorcet Winner").
We do agree that the Condorcet criterion is important, which is why we're happy that virtually every single RCV election ever held in the US has elected the Condorcet winner. It is not the only criterion we consider important, however. We know from on-the-ground experience educating voters about RCV around the country that they are reluctant to rank beyond their first choice due to the fear that a second choice could work against and perhaps defeat their first choice. The fear is not unfounded, because that is true of nearly every other alternative voting method in existence. This criterion is known as later-no-harm, and all Condorcet methods necessarily violate it.
Another thing we know from practice and that voters will often rank their first choice candidate's chief opponent last, even if that's not their sincere preference, under the assumption that it will help their first choice. In Maine, there were some voters who wrote-in candidates like "Mickey Mouse" as their 4th choice just to push Poliquin or Golden last on their ballot. This strategy is often called "burying" or "turkey-raising" (the Mickey Mouse candidate being the "turkey" that is insincerely raised). Fortunately, RCV is immune to to burying because Mickey Mouse is eliminated first regardless for having the fewest first choices. Consider a race where there are two strong candidates, where both sides raise the turkey candidate M above the other:
49: A > M > B
48: B > M > A
3: M > A > B
Under RCV, A wins, but under Condorcet, the turkey M (who is sincerely almost everyone's last choice) wins. In fact, it has been shown mathematically that Condorcet methods will elect turkey candidates at equilibrium.
Sure, it's theoretically possible that M is everyone's sincere second choice, but beyond that being extremely unlikely, we have to consider the political consequence of M winning. Yes, we occasionally hear from math-oriented people who are upset that M loses, but the bigger concern we hear from voters is the opposite: that RCV will elect "milquetoast" candidates who shy away from big ideas in hope of being everyone's second choice. We have to spend much more time assuring them that "everyone's second choice" cannot be elected than justifying the exclusion of the Condorcet candidate to those that understand what that is. Note, too, that the political fallout of electing M could include the supporters of A and B joining forces to repeal the system.
Lastly, RCV is tried, tested, and works well in the real world. Whatever the theoretical properties of other alternatives, they are untested in the context of real political elections. Many of the influential people we talk to, legislators in particular, are less interested in how RCV works on paper; they want to know how it works in practice. They understandably don't want Massachusetts to be a guinea pig for something untested.
It disrupts the electoral college.
We are not currently proposing any changes to the electoral college or how Ohio electors are chosen. RCV could in theory be used to determine which candidate wins our presidential electors. Or if we had a national popular vote for president, we could also, in theory, have a single, national RCV election. There are discussions taking place across the country about how best to elect the president, and we don’t want to interfere with that national debate right now.
Having a run-off vote between top two finishers who face-off for supporters instills more faith in the outcome than computer-run results.
Option 1: Question the desire to move towards a system that they know has fewer participants and is more expensive. Example: Runoff elections are notoriously expensive and never have as many people in the election. Most voters actively hate when they happen and usually don’t feel like turning out a second time to vote, why do you want a system that we know everyone hates?
Option 2: Bring up that it’s possible to count the votes by hand, thus nullifying the fear of computers or automation.
Discourages candidates from campaigning as hard.
Candidates will want to campaign just as hard to ensure that voters know who they are when they get to the polls and can make an informed ranked choice. Again, there is no requirement that voters must rank all candidates, so if nobody knows who they are, there is no reason to believe they will get any votes!
More complex voting system will lead to smaller voter turn out.
When your vote is more likely to count in the way you intend, you are more likely to participate. RCV gives voters the freedom to vote for their true first choice without the fear of a spoiler, and over time may increase voter turnout.
The Kimball and Anthony study shows that, when compared to the primary and runoff elections they replace, RCV general elections are associated with a 10 percent increase in voter turnout.
A 2020 study by Eamon McGinn of the University of Technology Sydney finds that ranked choice voting caused a 9.6 percentage point increase in turnout in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The effect on turnout is higher for precincts with higher poverty rates.
San Francisco had a highly competitive special election for Mayor in June 2018, which was combined with statewide primaries for governor and senator. The ballot in San Francisco included an RCV race for mayor, and non-RCV races for statewide offices. More San Franciscans participated in the RCV mayoral election (250,868 votes cast for Mayor) than in the non-RCV primaries at the top of the ballot (244,137 for Governor and 237,261 for U.S. Senator), demonstrating that a competitive RCV election can drive turnout.
FairVote examined turnout in the 6 largest U.S. cities using RCV. Their analysis showed strong turnout in RCV races compared to races before RCV implementation and compared to concurrent races in non-RCV cities.
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