Happy RCV Day! 1/23 is “Ranked Choice Voting” Day because its as easy as 123. And its already changing our politics for the better.

Forward Progressive
4 min readJan 23, 2023

Live near Richmond? Join us for a 1/23 RCV Celebration tonight and Virginia Democracy Day events on 1/24.

Live in Virginia? Contact these Senators and Delegates regarding Ranked Choice Voting bills being considered this week.

As you may know, Ranked Choice Voting is simply an “Instant Runoff” system used in elections with more than two candidates where you rank your preferences instead of just picking one candidate.

Why is this important? It ensures that a candidate must win with a MAJORITY of the vote which is a critical concept in our democracy but most elections are decided by a plurality in terms of whoever gets the most votes wins not a Majority of all the votes.

In elections with more than 2 candidates it is hard to achieve a 50+1 Majority.

So I like to think of RCV a “Majority Voting” system because it ensures that in our Democracy we respect the consensus will of the people.

How does that happen? Well, by ranking your candidates and conducting an “instant runoff” format, if there are more than 2 candidates and your first choice candidate comes in last then your first place vote is transferred to your second choice and if that candidate comes in last in the next round then your first place vote is transferred to your third choice and so on.

And why does this matter?

Because the consequences of our current system have been historic in nature.

How did George Bush get elected in 2000? He won with less than a MAJORITY.

How did Donald Trump get elected in 2016? He won with less than a MAJORITY.

And why is it so hard to defeat a right-wing politician with a strong base in a primary like Trump? They can win a primary with less than a MAJORITY.

Why is it so hard for new leaders to get elected in the Democratic Party? The incumbent can win a primary or party election with less than a MAJORITY.

So, we only have two ways to solve this problem.

The way we currently do it is by trying to limit the number of candidates running in an election and hoping for the best. That is why we have a two-party system.

But the better way is to change the system because the current system is a fantasy.

I agree with the words of wisdom that if you love something set it free.

Third Party candidates are still running in presidential elections because their whole point is they don’t want to take orders from the two major parties.

So why not tell the supporters of Jill Stein or Gary Johnson to at least support a Democrat or Republican as their second choice?

And how about supporters of Kyrsten Synema in 2024?

This is not just strategically a better way but it reduces the hostility between campaigns as well as it pays to make allies.

Meanwhile, considering the recent revolution in expanding political representation, how can we tell candidates not to run or cripple their campaign for a party nomination or office because they’re in the same race with a candidate with the same policies, gender, race or sexual orientation?

How dare we call a young leader a “spoiler” because they want to run for office and how date we create “spoilers” in the first place. But this happens all the time and Democrats sometimes will nominate weaker candidates and elect weaker leaders as a result.

If the Democratic Party truly wants to lead a Pro-Democracy coalition we must adopt Ranked Choice Voting for all our elections.

So who is using it? It recently made a difference in defeating Sarah Palin in Alaska and electing a Democratic House Member in Maine as well.

Ranked Choice Voting is gaining momentum in many cities and states as a Virginia law now permits the system in city/county elections here in Virginia and it will be used for the first time in Arlington this June. There are new bills in Richmond that I am lobbying for this week that will allow it to be used for statewide elections including the 2024 Presidential Primaries.

And it can be a significant improvement for states that run traditional Runoff elections which have worked for Democrats in Georgia recently but are costly and suppress turnout by asking voters to submit a ballot twice. That is why Georgia’s overseas mail ballots already allow you to rank your candidates to make the process easier and Georgia’s Secretary of State has endorsed RCV.

Join the movement to support Ranked Choice Voting by checking out non-partisan groups like Fair Vote and my new Blue Victory Coalition (click here for Virginia) where I plan to encourage Democrats to further modernize and democratize the party for 2024.

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Forward Progressive

Jim McBride is a former VA Dems Chair Candidate and Founder of Blue Victory War Room and “Keep Virginia Blue” War Room briefings on events.democrats.org.