Following a big year, more states push ranked-choice voting

Lawmakers in 14 states have already introduced 27 bills proposing ranked-choice voting models, according to an NBC News review.

Jan. 16, 2023, 6:00 AM CST

By Adam Edelman

Ranked-choice voting is having a moment. The past year saw not only an expansion in the use of ranked-choice systems but also increased interest in instituting it more widely. And in 2023, legislatures in at least 14 states will consider bills that would move them to this increasingly popular model.

In ranked-choice elections, voters identify their first choices on their ballots, then rank the other candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes on the first count, the election moves to an instant runoff. The candidate with the fewest votes gets eliminated, and ballots cast for that candidate are recast for voters’ second choices. The process repeats itself until a candidate reaches a majority.

Advocates of ranked-choice voting have long said the setup benefits moderate candidates who don’t play to either party’s fringe and work instead to appeal to the broadest number of people.

State lawmakers in both major parties seem to be listening to that argument.

Just two weeks into 2023, lawmakers in 14 states have introduced, filed and prefiled 27 bills that propose various iterations of ranked-choice voting, according to an NBC News review.

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