Ranked choice voting, explained

Lauren Dezenski | September 30, 2020

This year, Maine will be the first state to use ranked choice voting in a federal election. This applies to the presidential race, as well as the US House and US Senate. Here’s what to know about the system.

“By requiring the winner to reach more than 50 percent of the vote, ranked-choice voting ensures the winning candidate is the one with the broadest appeal to the majority of voters,” Warren and Raskin wrote.

What is Ranked Choice Voting?

It lets voters literally rank their choices in order of preference, marking candidates as their first, second and third choice picks (and so on). The winner must have a majority (more than 50% of the votes) rather than a plurality (simply the most votes). In Maine, ranked choice only takes effect when three or more candidates are on the ballot. Voting is counted by round, with lowest-ranked candidates eliminated in each round until only two candidates remain.