How Ranked Choice Voting Works

Wondering how Ranked Choice Voting works? You’re in the right place!

Ranked Choice Voting lets voters to rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference: first, second, third, etc. If one candidate receives a majority (more than 50%) of the first-choice votes, they win! If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is dropped, and those votes count instantly towards the next choice on each voter’s ballot. This process repeats in rounds (a runoff) until one candidate has a majority.

Here is a video demonstration of how Ranked Choice Voting works:


For more simple walkthroughs, see our short Video Explainers and learn all about Ranked Choice Voting in just a matter of minutes!

Marking the Ballot

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

For voters, Ranked Choice Voting is simple — just rank your choices in order of preference! You can vote for just one person like you always have, or you can mark additional choices, as many or few as you like (Learn More). This sample ballot shows a voter who likes Candidate B first, Candidate A second, and Candidate C third.

Sample Ranked Choice Voting ballot showing how Ranked Choice Voting works

Counting the Votes

RCV ballots are counted in a series of rounds, as shown here.

  1. First, all the first-choice votes are counted, and if any candidate has a majority (more than half) the votes, that candidate wins, just like in our elections right now!
  2. Otherwise, the last-place candidate (with the fewest votes) is eliminated. Any votes cast for that candidate are instantly transferred to the next preference indicated on each voter’s ballot (if the voter chose to rank more candidates).
  3. After each round of counting, we check again to see if any candidate has won a majority. If not, step 2 is repeated until one candidate achieves more than 50% of the vote and wins.

I’d like to learn more!

For more specific questions about which offices would be affected by RCV, how RCV compares to other voting methods, more details about how Ranked Choice Voting works, and much more; check out our Frequently Asked Questions section, or read through the full ballot description here:

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