Republicans & Democrats

How Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) Benefits You

There was a Missouri-wide petition drive in 2021-22 for a new voting system that included ranked choice voting, but also included non-partisan primaries. Strong party members object to doing primaries that way - but these are two entirely different election reforms.

Here we address ranked choice voting for partisan primaries, so those who want to keep them know that RCV would actually be a big help.

Walter Olson makes a case for RCV from a Republican perspective.

David Litt makes a case for RCV from a Democratic perspective.


A candidate could be ranked first by a third of the voters, and then ranked second by a quarter of the voters – that candidate now has majority support. The quarter of voters have said the candidate wasn’t their first choice, but was someone they’d be ok to see win.

Another candidate could get ranked first by a third, but not get much by way of second choices, because actually, that candidate doesn’t have that much support. So with RCV, that candidate can’t win.

Under our current system, they both got a third of the votes, and therefore won. Even having a majority of voters against the candidate wouldn’t matter, if there were enough other candidates to divide up the votes among that majority.


Huge Advantage of RCV #1: Primaries

From the Republican point of view


Here are the vote percentages for the Republican primary for Missouri governor in 2016:

Eric Greitens 34.56%

John Brunner 24.79%

Peter Kinder 20.70%

Catherine Hanaway 19.95%

The winner had just over a third of the vote. He could have won even if the majority was against him (and in fact a large portion was). He won – and then resigned due to scandal on June 1, 2018.

Glenn Youngkin won the Republican primary for governor in Virginia in 2021, and that primary used RCV. Youngkin is now Virginia’s governor, with a job approval rate steadily above 50%

From the Democratic point of view


Was Trudy Busch Valentine the best candidate to run for U.S. Senate in 2022? She got 43.2% of the vote, a solid win in our plurality system against Lucas Kunce, who got 38.4% of the vote. The rest of the vote was divided up among nine other candidates.

Would those who voted for one of those nine prefer Valentine or Kunce? We’ll never know, because we didn’t ask. RCV means asking, and therefore getting someone the majority is satisfied with.

Kansas Democrats used RCV in the 2020 presidential primary. The party’s presidential candidate had already been selected by then, so it didn’t make much of a splash, but it did go smoothly

The Advantages of RCV in Primaries Are:

You have a candidate that the majority of voters in your party are satisfied with.

You are assured you don’t have a candidate that the majority of voters in your party are dissatisfied with.

You can go into the general election presenting a candidate that has majority support, rather than a candidate who won the primary with only a fraction of the vote.


Huge Advantage of RCV #2:

General Election

For presidential elections:

· 1992 – Clinton won. The voters who voted for Perot had no chance to say whether they would prefer Clinton or Bush once they had voted for Perot.

· 2000 – Bush won. The voters who voted for Nader had no chance to say whether they would prefer Gore or Bush once they had voted for Nader.

Both parties have suffered from this “spoiler effect” – an independent or third party candidate

From the Republican point of view

Here are results of the 2022 governor’s race in Kansas, won by the Democrat with less than half of the vote:

Candidate:

Laura Kelly (D) 49.2% 479,981

Derek Schmidt (R) 47.7% 465,871

Dennis Pyle (I) 2.0% 19,762

Seth Cordell (L) 1.1% 10,662

If half of those who voted for Pyle and Cordell had taken the option of selecting the Republican as their second choice – and the philosophies of those two candidates suggest that would be most likely – then the Republican would have won the race.

From the Democratic point of view

In several U.S. presidential races, Democrats have worried – especially with Ralph Nader running as a Green Party candidate in 2000. The 2016 race also had two top candidates who each had less than half the popular vote, as other votes went to third party candidates. RCV would allow the voters to still have a say in who gets elected after they’ve said who they want first.


The Advantage of RCV in the General Election Is:

The “spoiler effect” is solved. Whichever party you’re in, you won’t have the frustration of losing an election you would have otherwise won due to independent candidates and third parties.