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Phillips Reintroduces Bill to Promote Ranked Choice Voting

The Voter Choice Act, passed by the House in 2021, supports state and local governments that choose to adopt Ranked Choice Voting.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) reintroduced the Voter Choice Act in the 118th Congress. The Voter Choice Act boosts adoption of a ranked choice voting (RCV) model for elections by investing $40 million in federal grants to cover up to 50 percent of the cost for local and state governments that choose to adopt RCV. The bicameral bill is led by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Angus King (I-ME) in the Senate and has been endorsed by FairVote. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Don Beyer (D-VA) joined as original cosponsors in the House.

“Americans are demanding more competent and cooperative representation and candidates of reason,” said Rep. Phillips. “Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Runoff Voting is a proven, Constitutional, electoral reform that discourages extreme partisanship, incentivizes problem solving, and ensures that election winners better reflect the views of most voters. The Voter Choice Act provides financial resources and technical support to communities seeking to adopt RCV without imposing a mandate on communities not yet ready for change.”
“As partisanship continues to harm our democracy and impede progress, we need to make government work for the American people,” said Sen. Bennet. “Ranked choice voting gives people more options at the ballot box, increases political competition, eliminates costly runoffs, and rewards candidates who appeal to the broadest swath of voters. Our bill provides vital support for states and local governments that choose to make this important transition.”
“We need to do more to cultivate rational, thoughtful leadership in this country. That’s exactly what ranked choice voting will help do. I’m proud to reintroduce the Voter Choice Act to support states and local governments as they transition to ranked choice voting and help bring civility back to America’s electoral system,” said Rep. Craig.  

In most U.S. elections today, the candidate with the most votes wins. Under this system, a candidate can win even if they receive far less than a majority of all votes cast. Moreover, voters supporting third parties can inadvertently hand victory to candidates with views diametrically opposed to their own. This can make elections less representative of the voters and discourage political competition. Instead of voting for a single candidate, RCV allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate earns a majority of first choice votes, the last-place candidate is eliminated. In a second count, voters who chose the eliminated candidate will have their second choice counted – a process which repeats until one candidate earns a majority. Evidence suggests that, by rewarding candidates for appealing to a broad majority of voters, RCV can increase competition, incent a greater focus on substantive issues, and rewards candidates who broaden support beyond their base. 

RCV is the fastest-growing election reform in America. According to FairVote, 50 jurisdictions used RCV in their most recent elections, covering 13 million voters in 46 cities, three counties, and two states. Five cities in Minnesota — St. Paul, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, and Bloomington — used RCV for their mayoral and council races in 2021.

“With increasingly dangerous divisions and extremism in our politics, we are grateful that Congressman Phillips and Senators Bennet and King are taking action to support one of the best reforms to address those divisions and strengthen our democracy –– Ranked Choice Voting,” said FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey. “Because candidates appeal to their opponent's supporters for second-choice votes, RCV fosters more civil campaigns and a more broadly representative and responsive government. Five Minnesota cities and a growing number of jurisdictions across the country are showcasing the power of Ranked Choice Voting to incentivize more positive, inclusive and representative elections, and we applaud the effort to lead our democracy forward with the Voter Choice Act, which will accelerate this promising reform at the local and state level.”

“The Voter Choice Act is a great way to support the fastest-growing voting reform in the country,” said Deb Otis, Director of Research and Policy at FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for better elections. “Ranked choice voting makes our elections better by giving voters better choices, and by rewarding candidates who run issues-driven campaigns. While most cities actually save money by using RCV to replace runoffs or two-round contests, the Voter Choice Act will give more Americans the opportunity to try RCV – by helping to offset any voter education and implementation costs with approaches that further boost election security and voter confidence."