Terms Glossary

Good Party's Terms Glossary is a list of definitions of words from the political and elections world. These terms are from an independent's perspective with an eye toward reform. If you have a suggestion for a new definition, send it to ask@goodparty.org.

Rank Choice Voting

Ranked choice voting is an electoral system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Instead of simply selecting one candidate, voters are able to indicate which candidate they would most prefer to win, as well as which candidates they would be willing to accept as an alternative if their first choice does not win. This system is designed to ensure that the winner of an election has the broadest possible support, rather than just a simple plurality of votes.

One of the main advantages of ranked choice voting is that it helps to reduce the influence of the two major political parties and promotes the participation of independent and third party candidates. In a traditional first-past-the-post system, these candidates often struggle to get elected because they are perceived as "spoilers" who might split the vote and help the major party candidate win. With ranked choice voting, however, these candidates can be ranked as a second or third choice, which means that they can still be influential even if they do not win outright.

There are several examples of ranked choice voting in action. In 2018, Maine became the first state to use ranked choice voting in a statewide election. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Election Innovation and Research, 89% of Maine voters said that they found the system easy to use, and 84% said that they would support its continued use in future elections.

Other places that have adopted ranked choice voting include San Francisco, California and Minneapolis, Minnesota. In both of these cities, ranked choice voting has been credited with helping to promote more civil and productive campaigns, as candidates are more likely to appeal to a wider range of voters in order to secure their second and third choice rankings.

Overall, ranked choice voting is an innovative and effective way to ensure that elections are more representative of the will of the people. By giving voters more choice and allowing them to rank candidates in order of preference, it promotes greater participation and helps to reduce the influence of the two major political parties.