November 16, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following the recent Election Day, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) have introduced the Voter Choice Act to support the adoption of a ranked choice voting (RCV) model for federal elections, also known as an “instant runoff.” The Voter Choice Act provides $40 million in federal grants to cover up to 50 percent of the cost for state and local governments that choose to adopt RCV.
In most U.S. elections, a candidate can win without receiving a majority of votes cast, and are often motivated to attack their opponents rather than make a compelling case to the public. Instead of voting for a single candidate, RCV allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate earns a majority after counting first choices, the last-place candidate is eliminated and voters for the eliminated candidate then have their ballot count for their next choice. The process repeats until one candidate earns a majority. By rewarding candidates for appealing to a broad swath of voters, RCV can discourage extreme partisanship, motivate candidates to focus on substantive issues, and ensure that election winners better reflect the views of most voters.
“In the face of threats that undercut the fundamental right to vote for millions of Americans, we must act to protect our democracy,” said King. “The Voter Choice Act would help communities advance the vast majority of voters’ priorities by instituting ranked choice voting, like the system that Maine already uses for its primary and federal elections. In such a polarized political climate, this bill would force candidates to appeal to a broader electorate rather than a small, outspoken faction. We must continue working towards improving our great democracy and that begins with restoring faith in our electoral system.”
“As partisanship continues to harm our democracy and impede progress, we need to make government work for the American people,” said 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.”
RCV is the fastest-growing election reform in America. As of the 2022 elections, RCV has been used in jurisdictions like Maine, Alaska, New York City, and San Francisco.
As a former member of the Senate Rules Committee, Senator King has been a longstanding supporter of increasing access to voting. He previously introduced the Freedom to Vote Act which would set basic national standards for voting rights. It would also end partisan gerrymandering and help eliminate the undue influence of secret money in our elections. In October 2021, he delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate floor urging action on voting rights, stating that we are currently “at a hinge of history” that will determine the future of the American experiment in self-government. He built on these arguments in a speech from the Senate floor where he called for reforms to the filibuster to allow for common sense voting rights legislation to pass. He also released the draft Electoral Count Modernization Act to shape the conversation around establishing clear, consistent, and fair procedures for the counting and certification of electoral votes for the presidency.