Ranked Choice Voting: The solution to our presidential primary predicament

Beth Hladick, Unite America Policy Manager | June 9, 2020

The 2020 presidential primary will go down in history for many reasons, the most important being that a global pandemic interrupted American life, including our democratic processes. 

Though this unique primary season is nearing and end, familiar problems plagued this cycle, especially in Democratic primaries; in states with early or absentee voting (also referred to as vote by mail) over two million votes were wasted on candidates who had withdrawn from the race; tabulation technology cracked under pressure, delaying election results and delegate allocation; delegates were awarded disproportionately to votes received, lessening the influence of voters. 

These problems aren’t unique to Democratic contests. In 2016, over half a million votes were wasted in Republican contests. In states where delegates are pledged in a more winner-take-all fashion, candidates won delegates in higher proportion to votes received, often on a slim margin of victory. 

Fortunately, a better voting system exists: ranked choice voting (also referred to as RCV, Instant Runoff Voting, IRV). In a new report, the Unite America Institute explains how Ranked Choice Voting addresses issues in our presidential primary process.