General Studies IIConstitution

Ranked choice voting


Ranked choice voting made its debut in New York City’s mayoral primary in one of the most high-profile tests yet for a system gaining use in pockets across the US.

About Ranked Choice Voting:

This method, also known as “instant-runoff voting,” was invented around 1870 and has since been adopted by a handful of democracies across the world. Australia has used ranked-choice voting in its lower house elections since 1918. 

Ranked voting, also known as ranked-choice voting or preferential voting, is any election voting system in which voters use a ranked (or preferential) ballot to select more than one candidate (or other alternative being voted on) and to rank these choices in a sequence on the ordinal scale of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. There are multiple ways in which the rankings can be counted to determine which candidate or candidates (or other outcome(s)) is or are elected (or adopted), and these different methods may produce different results from the same set of ballots. Ranked voting is different from cardinal voting, where candidates are independently rated, rather than ranked.

How does it work? 

  • In New York City’s version, voters get to rank up to five candidates, from first to last, on their ballot.
  • If one candidate is the first choice of a majority of voters — more than 50% — that person wins the race outright, just like in a traditional election.
  • If nobody hits that threshold, ranked choice analysis kicks in.
  • Vote tabulation is done in rounds. In each round, the candidate in last place is eliminated. Votes cast ranking that candidate first are then redistributed to those voters’ second choices.
  • That process repeats until there are only two candidates left. The one with the most votes wins.

Ranked choice voting Countries

There are many types of ranked voting, with several used in governmental elections. Instant-runoff voting is used in Australian state and federal elections, in Ireland for its presidential elections, and by some jurisdictions in the United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. A type and classification of ranked voting is called the single transferable vote, which is used for national elections in Ireland and Malta, the Australian Senate, for regional and local elections in Northern Ireland, for all local elections in Scotland, and for some local elections in New Zealand and the United States. Borda count is used in Slovenia and Nauru. Contingent vote and supplementary vote are also used in a few locations. Condorcet methods are used by private organizations and minor parties, but currently are not used in governmental elections.

Advantages and Disadvantages 

Advantages  Disadvantages
No Wastage of Vote
One benefit of the system is that nobody “wastes” their vote by picking an unpopular candidate as their first choice.A voter  who ranked someone No. 1, even if  he suspects that candidate doesn’t stand a chance. If that person is eliminated, voters still get a say in who wins the race based on the other rankings.
Selecting Candidate with Broader Support:
It’s tough for someone to get elected without broad support. In a traditional election, it’s possible for someone with fringe political views to win in a crowded field of candidates, even if they are deeply disliked by a majority of voters.That’s theoretically less likely in a ranked choice system. A candidate could get the largest share of first-choice votes, but still lose to someone who is the second or third choice of a large number of people.  
The system is tough to grasp. It requires voters to do a lot more research. It also makes races less predictable.  

Issues of Transparency and trust
Transparency and trust are also potential problems. Ordinarily, candidates, the public and news organizations can see votes coming in, precinct by precinct, and know exactly who is leading and where their support is coming from. Under the modern ranked choice system, the process of redistributing votes is done by computer. Outside groups will have a harder time evaluating whether the software sorted the ranked votes accurately.  
Scope for Public Mistrust:
There may be instances where candidates who seem to have a comfortable lead in first-place votes on election night lose because relatively few voters rank them as their second or third choice. That could lead to people questioning the results.  

Source: Indian Express


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