In Georgia, when candidates for state or federal legislatures do not earn 50% support, a second election must be held which historically results in much lower voter turnout. Runoff elections are expensive to administer and expensive for candidates, with the most recent U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia resulting in more than $500M in spending. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) or “instant runoffs” solves this problem.
In 2021, Republican lawmakers included a provision requiring RCV ballots for military and overseas voters as a part of their election omnibus bill (the policy will be implemented in 2022). This reform win has created forward momentum in the state, where a growing coalition of organizations, activists, business leaders, and policy experts are at work on the issue.
The Unite America Fund has invested in three organizations in the state who are working together in a state-based coalition to pass ranked choice voting legislation. Six lawmakers (three Republicans and three Democrats) have introduced a RCV local option bill in Georgia. Legislative and coalition leaders are also cultivating support within the Georgia General Assembly for passing a statewide ranked choice voting bill.
Ranked choice voting is a commonsense change that gives voters the option to rank candidates for office in the order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes that candidate received count instantly towards the next choice on those voters’ ballots. That process repeats until a candidate receives a majority of the vote and wins.
Ranked choice voting gives voters more choice, voice, and power when they cast their ballots, eliminates the “spoiler effect,” and helps guarantee that elected leaders are elected with majority support.
Georgians United is working to support “Final Five Voting:” the powerful combination of top-five nonpartisan primaries and ranked choice voting. All candidates — regardless of party affiliation — will compete in a single primary open to all voters, and the top five finishers will advance to the general election. Then, ranked choice voting will be used to ensure the winner has majority support.