Ranked Choice Voting on the Ballot in 2024
2024 is the biggest year yet for ranked choice voting.
At least two states (Nevada and Oregon) will put the question to their voters. That means millions more Americans may soon have access to an improved democratic process.
Read on for an overview of the reforms being considered and details of how each is taking shape.
Open Primaries + Ranked Choice Voting (aka "Final-Five Voting")
This combination reform is a "one-two punch" for improved elections and governing. It's modeled after the system that has been used in Alaska since 2022. And it's a system that's getting results.
Here's the quick overview of how the reforms work together:
Primary elections tend to be set up so only registered party members can participate. Registered Republicans vote in Republican primaries. The same goes for Democrats. The winner of each party's primary goes on to the November general election. Voters in November tend to choose from one of these two choices.
In an open "Top-Five" or "Final-Five" primary, all candidates from all parties appear on the ballot. And, just as importantly, all voters can vote. The top five vote getters then move on to the November general election. Voters in November then get to use ranked choice voting to rank their preferences amongst the five candidates.
This leads to more participation in the elections, more competition amongst candidates, and elected leaders that are accountable to all their voters (not just voters in the primary).
Nevada voters will vote in November 2024 on whether they will use open primaries and ranked choice voting general elections (starting in 2026).
Voters already approved it in 2022, but it needs to pass in two consecutive ballot measures in order to amend the state constitution.
Statewide Ranked Choice Voting
This approach gives voters more voice and more choice in their elections. It's modeled after the system that's been in use in Maine since 2018.
RCV helps create the space for a diverse array of candidates to run. The fear of splitting the vote or being forced out by a party is removed. This encourages a variety of voices, particularly from marginalized communities, to join the political discourse (these communities are often discouraged from running due to “electability concerns”).
Oregon voters will vote in November 2024 on whether they will use ranked choice voting general elections for statewide and federal offices (starting in 2028).
The Oregon Legislature passed the reform in 2023, but any change to the state constitution requires referral to the voters before enacting.