Will Virginia embrace ranked choice voting?

VA With Ranked Choice Method For GOP During 2021
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 7:31 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Republican convention last weekend delivered a statewide ticket for the November election.

It also employed a new way of voting, that Virginians of both parties might just see again.

Delegates to the Republican Party’s unassembled convention voted for their favorite candidate in each race. But they also recorded their preference for second, third, fourth and on down the line.

It’s called ranked choice voting, what some advocates describe as an “instant run-off.”

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote when the ballots are first counted, the candidate with lowest number is eliminated and their votes are redistributed, according to the voters’ second or subsequent preference.

Virginia Tech Professor and WDBJ7 Political Analyst Bob Denton was skeptical at first, but says there are some advantages.

“It tends to make campaigns less negative,” Denton said. “It prevents a plurality of someone under 50 percent playing a spoiler and obtaining a nomination.”

Republicans used ranked choice voting in last year’s convention. And they chose this method again because of COVID restrictions.

Virginia GOP Chairman Rich Anderson said he was happy with the way it went.

“And so those will be considered to be test cases, if you will, proof of concept, to see if it works,” Anderson told WDBJ7.

The General Assembly has passed legislation allowing ranked choice voting in certain local elections, and Denton says we’re likely to see it again.

“Not only in terms of local elections, but I think it’s going to move to the state level,” Denton said. “And wouldn’t it be interesting if it was at the national level, where you might just have more than two candidates you may actually have five candidates that can be viable, each and every one.”

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