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Election Day 2021: RCV takes center stage

Ranked choice voting is set to make a big splash on Tuesday. Here are the races to watch.

Brett Maney
Sr. Communications Manager
November 1, 2021

There’s nothing quite like an off-year election — and thanks to the rapid adoption of ranked choice voting across the country, there’s really never been anything quite like this year’s election. 

Ranked choice voting empowers voters to rank candidates in order of preference, and helps municipalities to save taxpayer money by avoiding costly (and low-turnout) runoffs. But RCV is also increasingly demonstrating an ability to change the tenor of the campaigns; under ranked choice voting, candidates work to earn second and third place votes, and ease the toxicity of campaigns. As one campaign consultant said, with ranked choice voting, there’s a reason to approach each and every constituent

(If you need a refresher on the basics of ranked choice voting, check out our page here).

Ranked choice voting will be used in 31 municipalities across the country on Tuesday, capping off what has been a major year for this popular nonpartisan election reform. 

  • 23 cities in Utah — including Salt Lake City and Moab — have adopted ranked choice voting for their municipal elections, thanks to HB75, a popular pilot program passed by the state legislature last year. 19 of those cities will be using RCV tomorrow.

    That’s in addition to 11 cities outside of Utah — from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Cambridge, Massachusetts to Santa Fe, New Mexico — will also be using RCV for mayoral and city council races. 

  • Meanwhile, three cities will be looking to adopt ranked choice voting on Tuesday: Ann Arbor, Michigan, Broomfield, Colorado, and Westbrook, Maine. 

    Voters in Austin, Texas (with 58% support) and Burlington, Vermont (with 64% support) have already adopted RCV this year.  

  • Also on Tuesday, New York City will be electing their city council and mayor — nominations that were decided by their first-ever ranked choice voting election back in June. NYC voters adopted the system in 2019 by an overwhelming majority (74%), and response to the system’s first outing was overwhelmingly positive. 

    Exit polling
    found that:
95% of voters found RCV simple to use;
83% of voters ranked more than one candidate;
77% of voters want to use RCV again. 

Meanwhile, RCV also helped to assure what’s expected to be the most diverse city council ever, with 29 women (26 of whom identify as WOC) and the city’s second ever Black mayor. 

Ranked choice voting gives voters more voice, choice, and power in their elections, and we’re only going to see more of it in the years to come.