Ranked Choice Voting

By Patricia Fenati

Several years ago, we went to a large granite warehouse to choose a piece of granite for our kitchen counter. When we found a piece that we loved, we asked to have it shipped to the company that was installing our cabinets and cutting the counter tops. However, the salesman told us that we had to make a second choice. “Why?” we asked… “Because that is our company rule,” he replied.

When he tried to push us until we chose another piece, I responded that “I only want our first choice.” He said he understood … but the next day our second choice arrived at our installers! It took lots of work, calls to the company president and another trip to the warehouse to straighten that out. Second choice was not acceptable. 

However, being able to make a “second choice” is supposed to be the great advantage of ranked choice voting.

In ranked choice voting, you are asked to rank the candidates on the ballot by how much you like them. Unfortunately, with ranked choice voting, if the final winner is your second or third choice or even a lower choice, you have no recourse. You are stuck with that choice and the fact that you voted for that candidate helped that candidate win. 

Ranked choice voting is already the law in Maine, parts of California, Utah, Massachusetts, and some towns in Maryland, among others.  Our delegation in Annapolis will again push ranked choice voting this year. I guess they think the third time is the charm… However, re-arguing the same bill year after year just reminds me of the logic used in the movie Groundhog Day.

Ranked choice voting works like this: A candidate who gets a majority of first-place votes, greater than 50%, is the winner. However, if no one gets a majority, then the last-place finisher is eliminated, and the second choice votes for the eliminated candidate are applied to the remaining candidates.

Here is a simple example of what can happen. In this example, there are only three choices (A, B, or C) and 100 voters using ranked choice voting. Below are the election results. Note: In this example no one is required to make three choices. Some ranked choice voting laws require multiple choices on the ballot will be rejected. Can you imagine that if you only vote for one of the candidates your vote would be eliminated!!!!



Obviously, no one got more than 50% of the votes so we then go to the 

calculations of ranked choice voting:



Candidate C who came in third place is eliminated. Then the eliminated candidate’s second choice numbers are applied to the person who came in second for C. (C’s second place numbers are added to B’s first place votes) 

The final vote for B after second choice is added is 51

And the Winner (With 27% of the popular vote) is …



In his article Ranked-choice voting has not produced what we were promised , Adam Crepeau said, “RCV is nothing more than the product of losers who want to change the rules because their candidate didn’t win.” I would add it is also the product of majority parties who want to make competition from other parties more difficult. There are many ways of manipulating vote results. Ranked choice voting seems to be another feather in the cap of those who want full control. 

The vote calculations in ranked choice voting are so complicated that there must be a third party hired to determine the winner. The calculations cannot be trusted to our State Election Boards. The cost of ranked choice voting in Maryland is calculated to be over $1,000,000.00 for every election. Other states have election runoff systems to determine the winner when there is no majority reached. 

Ranked Choice Voting is:

Too confusing

Too expensive

Too manipulative

Too complicated to tally

Too intimidating for voters

Make your voice heard when it is considered in the General Assembly. 

Montgomery County Republican Party