Arlington County to use ranked choice voting in June primary

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Voting sign(WDBJ)
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 6:46 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Next month, ranked choice voting will be used for the first time in a Virginia election.

The General Assembly approved the method in 2020 for the election of county supervisors and city council members.

Arlington County is the first locality to use it, for a Democratic primary June 20.

In ranked choice voting, voters don’t just choose their favorite. They rank all the candidates in a race.

In Arlington County, voters are choosing Democratic candidates for two seats on the Board of Supervisors.

To win the nomination, a candidate will need more than 33.3% of the vote.

The Arlington County Voting and Elections website explains the process:

“All 1st choice votes are counted. If no candidates receive the required number of votes to win, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and ballots for that candidate are transferred to the voter’s next choice. This process continues until candidates have enough votes to win.

If your 1st choice candidate is eliminated, your vote is transferred to your 2nd choice candidate. If your 2nd choice candidate is eliminated, your vote is then transferred to your 3rd choice candidate.”

Matt Weinstein is a member of the State Board of Elections from Arlington County.

“The reason for doing RCV, and why we wanted to do it for the county board, the theory is whoever wins get the majority of support at the end of the day from the voters through the different rounds,” Weinstein said. “So you wouldn’t have somebody who wins a race with 22% of the vote or something like that.”

Tuesday morning, some speakers urged the State Board of Elections to delay the use of ranked choice voting, but the Board Chair said members were fulfilling their obligation and following state law.