At a time when Americans are seeking ways to reduce political division, ranked-choice voting is an election method several states and localities are considering to encourage more collegial campaigning.
This year’s Community Forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Virginia Tech’s Lifelong Learning Institute, and the NAACP-Montgomery Co-Radford City-Floyd Co Branch will explore the option of ranked-choice voting through the perspective of two voting experts.
The forum is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. in Blacksburg’s Town Council Chambers. The event is free and open to the public.
Liz White, executive director of UpVote Virginia, and Dr. Caitlin Jewitt, assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech, will explain and analyze the electoral method of ranked-choice voting.
UpVote Virginia is a nonpartisan organization promoting ranked-choice voting as the way to improve the structure of our electoral system and better reflect the will of voters.
Dr. Jewitt is recognized for her research on campaigns and elections, public opinion, political parties, and presidential primaries and caucuses. She is particularly interested in the institutional features of elections and their effects on voters, election outcomes, and candidate strategy.
With ranked-choice voting, voters rank all candidates in an election rather than choosing one. Ranked choice voting is described as a means to a more representative and inclusive government and a way to reduce negative campaigning. The need for costly runoff elections is bypassed because the candidate who garners more than 50% of the vote wins. If no one gets a majority of votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is dropped and his or her votes are redistributed to the other candidates. Voters whose candidate is eliminated then have their second choice counted.
Ranked-choice voting was used this spring in Arlington in the Democratic primary, but the Arlington County Board decided not to use the increasingly popular voting system for November’s general election. The Democratic primary was the first publicly run ranked-choice election in Virginia, offering a highly visible test for a voting system that’s been used in a growing number of races around the country.
Submitted by the League of Women Voters