Using RankedVote

Simulate Real-World Elections with RCV Ballots

How to Use RankedVote to Simulate Real-World Electoral Reforms

Increased Realism, Increased Impact

It's great to run Favorite Fruit or Pizza Topping elections to get voters more familiar with ranked choice voting. But, to truly get the electorate ready for reform, it's most impactful for voters to practice in a way that's as close to the real thing as possible.

That's why RankedVote uses data provided by Ballotpedia, the digital encyclopedia of American politics and elections, to allow you to easily create elections featuring real-world candidates from over 2,500 federal elections.

Potential Uses

Real data allows you to easily bring these reforms to life.

  • Ranked Choice Voting: Take an election from your congressional district and see what happens when your voters can use a ranked choice ballot. Maine and Alaska can't hog all the fun!
  • Open Primaries: Select the primaries for all parties in your district. See how it feels to have a say across all options. Better yet, make it a Final-Five Election.
  • Proportional Representation: Select elections in multiple districts in your state and allow for multiple-winners. See how this reform could lead to a more representative outcome.

Follow the walkthrough below to see how 👇

Step-by-Step Walkthrough

Create Simulation

The initial steps are no different than creating any other election in RankedVote. Once you sign in, click the purple "Add" button seen at the top of your Elections List. Then, instead of typing in a name, click the "Simulate" button that appears below.

Note: Simulate Real-World Elections is a Premium feature in RankedVote. It only appears when you have an Premium Plan subscription.

Simulate button on Add elections page
Click the "Simulate" button to use real-world candidates

Select Real-World Elections

Use the "Select Races" page to search and filter through over 2,500 federal elections. The data goes back to 2018 and information for 2022 is updated on a regular basis. Here's how to find the election you want:

  • Search: Simply type in the text of what you're looking for (e.g. "Wisconsin District 2") and it should show near the top of the results.
  • State Filter: Choose a state from the dropdown to show results only from that state.
  • Year Filter: Choose a year from the dropdown to show results only from that election year. 2022 is the default.
  • Stage Filter: Choose "Primary" or "General" from the dropdown to show results only from that type of election.

Search and Filters can be combined together to help you narrow the results accurately. The top 25 results are displayed by default. Click the "More..." button to see the next 25 results.

When you find the election you want, click it. It will highlight on the screen and in the purple box at the bottom of the screen. Then click "Next" to move to the confirmation screen.

On the confirmation screen, you'll see the names and party affiliations of all candidates in the elections you selected. If it looks good, click "Create."

Activating the Final-Five feature for an election
Using "Search & Filter" to narrow results

Adjust Settings (Optional)

Now you're on the usual Election Details page and can adjust the election as you would any other on RankedVote.

The Candidates section is preloaded with each candidate's name and party affiliation. Each candidate's description links to additional info on that candidate on Ballotpedia. Feel free to flesh out the descriptions for the candidates as you see fit.

The Election Name is also automatically preloaded. Edit it if needed.

Beyond that, have at it! Go Multi-Office! Make it Final-Five! Embed it on your site!

Best Practices

Build a Full Ballot

For the fullest election simulation, you'll want to take advantage of RankedVote's "Multi-Office" feature. This will allow you to create a single voter experience where multiple positions are voted upon in a single voting session. So, you could create an election featuring your district's congressional race, but then "Add another office" that has your state's senate race. When your voters use RankedVote, they'll have an experience that more closely reflects their actual ballot.

Simulate a Real Final-Five Election

Find your district's or state's primary for a key race using the "Search & Filter" feature. Once you create the election, select the Final-Five ballot type and confirm. In just a couple steps, you've now got a realistic simulation that shows how this reform could work where you live!

Add Proportional Representation to the Mix

Multi-member districts could be one of the most effective ways to make our elections more representative. The basic idea is that instead of having many single-winner congressional districts you have fewer districts, but with multiple winners selected by ranked choice voting.

Beyond the benefits of ranked choice voting, this approach immediately blunts the impact of gerrymandering and makes the districts competitive.

Here's how to simulate it in RankedVote:

  1. Click "Add" from the Elections List
  2. Click "Simulate" (instead of naming the election)
  3. Filter for your state and year
  4. Select multiple districts (each should turn purple)
  5. Click "Next" to go to the confirmation page, then click "Create"
  6. Now on the Election Details page, change the number of winners to the number of districts you selected (e.g. If you selected Wisconsin districts 1, 2, and 3, then you should set winners to "3")
  7. You've now created a multi-member district election!

©2024 RankedVote, LLC. All rights reserved.