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Is Ranked Choice Voting Confusing? Or is it as easy as 1 * 2 * 3 ?

Mar 15, 2024

(hint: it's really easy)

Map of California cities using RCV

As we’ve talked to folks in Santa Clara County, they sometimes ask if Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is confusing. The data and research does not back that up. In fact, when New York City first used RCV in an election in 2021, exit polls showed that 83% of voters ranked 2 or more candidates on their ballot, and 95% of voters said that they found the RCV ballot easy to complete regardless of age, race, education, income level, or language spoken. The NYC ballot was in 31 different languages! (For exit polls from other jurisdictions, see here.

How about mistakes on the ballot? RCV has been used in elections around the world since the late 1800’s. The national data shows no statistically significant difference in mistakes on RCV ballots and non-RCV ballots.

Voters of Santa Clara County are incredibly smart! We are not easily fooled by claiming RCV is “confusing”. It’s insulting to claim that the voters of Santa Clara County will be confused by RCV because we cannot rank our preferences. The Bay area is home to loyal baseball, basketball, football, soccer and hockey fans – of course we know how to determine “first, second, and third place”.

Backed by data and research, RCV is a straightforward way to vote that brings out the best in the voters and the candidates. It’s TIME to adopt it here in Santa Clara County.

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