Ranked Choice Voting Bills Die in General Assembly

by Ken Reid

All bills in the Virginia General Assembly to allow ranked choice voting (RCV) for town council, school board and constitutional officer elections, plus presidential primaries, were passed by indefinitely Feb. 7 by House and Senate committees, essentially being killed for this legislative session.

Even in the Democrat Senate, the RCV bill was killed unanimously.

I was disappointed: HB1751, to allow RCV in local and school board races was offered by Republican Del. Glenn Davis of Virginia Beach, as there has been widespread opposition to RCV by Virginia Republicans. However, there was some evidence RCV could have helped GOP candidates who lost recent Virginia Beach City Council elections, so maybe that’s why he patroned it.

Links and descriptions of the tabled bills are below:

  • HB1751  ..Elections; ranked choice voting, local governing bodies, school boards, & primaries;
  • HB2118 ..Local or constitutional office; elections allowed to be conducted by ranked choice voting;
  • HB2301 ..Presidential primaries; ranked choice voting; 
  • HB2436  ..Primaries for federal, statewide, and General Assembly offices; ranked choice voting;
  • SB1380 . ..Presidential primaries; ranked choice voting. 

The group UpVote Virginia issued a call for donations to help pass RCV, just a day after all their bills were killed in Richmond.

On Monday Feb. 13, the national group, Fair Vote, which gets most of its funding from left-leaning foundations including George Soros, will hold a webinarHow RCV works in multi-winner elections.” Click here to join the webinar.

My guess is that the webinar was scheduled Feb. 13 because proponents hoped the bills would make it to the floor and to crossover. But for now, expanding RCV beyond the current law appears to be dead in Virginia.

That law, adopted when Democrats controlled the General Assembly in 2020-21, allows counties and cities to use it for their elections, but not for other local offices. Thus far, only Arlington County has opted to use it, and only in primaries for county supervisor.

My arguments against RCV were first posted here in Bacons Rebellion in December. See https://www.baconsrebellion.com/?s=ranked-choice.

Ken Reid, lives in McLean. He has served on the Leesburg Town Council and Loudoun Board of Supervisors (2006-2017). He has attended numerous Republican county and state elections and was a Trump delegate to the 2016 and 2020 Republican National Convention. He is the author of “The Six Secrets to Winning Any Local Election – and Navigating Elected Office Once You Win.”

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8 responses to “Ranked Choice Voting Bills Die in General Assembly”

  1. Silver lining, we found the rare thing both parties agree on: protecting their seats.

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      And shutting out any potential third parties from getting any kind of toehold…

  2. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    Thank GOD some sense remains

  3. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar

    Ranked Choice voting is irrational except, perhaps, in party primary elections. Democrats vote for Democrats, and Republicans vote for Republicans in general elections. They have no reason to vote for a second or third choice from the opposite party. The logic extends to Independents as well. The Independent typically chooses either a Republican or a Democratic candidate. This means she/he doesn’t want the other candidate to win or the Independent would have voted for the other candidate.

    1. What are you talking about? There are multiple third parties aligned along different political axes that cannot compete because the current system forces two parties to compete because any third parties will take away votes from the party they are closer to politically.

      Ranked choice enables a wider spectrum of candidates as opposed to two wishy-washy candidates that have to be many things to many people. Does the Libertarian candidate appeal to you? Then you can rank them first while having the Republican second in the event neither side gets enough votes to win so your vote still matters

      How on earth is this irrational? Ranked voting isn’t for voting for the opposite side.

      1. dave schutz Avatar
        dave schutz

        A huge plus of RCV is it gets rid of the ‘lone nutball’ candidate – or if you prefer ‘outlier without wide appeal’. The Reeps were deeply afraid that Amanda Chase would gain nomination and deep six their chances for governor, while the more mainstream candidates divided the normal Republican vote – and they won the governorship with a more mainstream candidate. The Dems have their own outliers who will damage their chances in the general if nominated.

      2. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar

        No, the other parties’ candidates don’t appeal to me one bit. If they did, I’d vote for them in the first place. In a general election, I pick one candidate and vote for that person period. I’ve done that all my life.

        I can see some value in using ranked choice voting in a primary election where there are more than one candidate running for a party’s nomination. The arguments made below have some logic to them. But in a general election, no way. My first, second, third, etc. choice would be the same person.

    2. dave schutz Avatar
      dave schutz

      Hey! Arlington here, if I may…. we have a primary coming up, which will yield two nominees for the Dems (and for the Reeps, if any of them bother to show up, this is Arlington after all) and the current tempest in our teapot is a housing issue, which has the community divided.
      Arlington was long known as ‘People’s Arlington’ in the General Assembly, and it’s center of gravity has been well to the left of the state, but there is division of opinion here, and importantly intra-Dem division. The way RCV works when more than one person is being nominated is that there is a threshold for election, which is 1/(n+1)+1. That is, since we have two nominees to be chosen, the number of votes it takes to be the nominee is one third plus one – if 9000 people vote, you get chosen if you get 3001 votes. Result is, if you have factions (do we ever have factions!) any group which can cobble together a third of the electorate will nominate someone. Much better chance that the variety of opinions in the Dem electorate will get onto our County Board.
      So I expect that the big result for us in Fair Arlington will be representation of a broader sweep of within-Dem opinion clusters. And the more members we nominate at once, the better we will do at proportional representation.

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