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Vermont Ranked Choice Voting

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Ranked Choice Voting

Background

With the support of the UA Fund, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) advocated to make Vermont the 7th state in the nation to adopt a full vote at home system in 2021. The bipartisan legislation provides all registered voters a postage-paid mailed ballot for statewide elections. Later in 2021, Burlington voters opted to bring ranked choice voting (RCV) back to their city. Both reform-momentum building wins have paved a way to earning bipartisan support in an effort to implement RCV for federal elections in the state. Ballot initiatives are not possible in Vermont, requiring legislative action to adopt RCV. Bipartisan legislation was introduced in early 2022 to adopt the system for federal primary and general elections — including for president.

The Opportunity

VPIRG is focused on the following programmatic priorities to cultivate support and build momentum for the passage of ranked choice voting: paid and earned media, lobbying, grassroots organizing and coalition building. VPIRG filed its legislation in early January 2022 with Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale as the bill's primary sponsor. Since then, several more cosponsors have been added, including the support of Senate Pro Tem Balint.

The Organization

VPIRG is led by Executive Director Paul Burns and advised by Senior Strategist Tom Hughes.

The Policy

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.

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