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Virginia House Approves Ranked-Choice Voting For Local Elections

People standing behind voting boxes
(Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

The House of Delegates passed a bill Friday that would allow localities to experiment with a new type of voting. 

The bill, sponsored by Del. Sally Husdon (D-Charlottesville), authorizes ranked-choice voting pilot programs for localities. Under ranked-choice, residents label their first choice vote and then go down the line. When the votes are tallied, the candidate in last place gets eliminated and the votes they receive are reallocated to their supporters’ second choice. That process continues until one candidate passes 50 percent.

Hudson said her bill is ultimately about allowing for experimentation.

“I think that just like states are supposed to be the laboratories of democracy, communities should be the laboratories of the states,” Hudson said. “Our community would like a little bit more freedom to experiment.” 

Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), a chief co-sponsor of the bill, said his constituents were excited about the opportunity to experiment with ranked-choice voting. 

Virginia would join nine other states in allowing ranked-choice voting at a local level. Only one state, Maine, uses the system in state-level elections. Advocates for ranked-choice voting say the system allows for more people to feel like their voices are heard, especially in local races with a lot of candidates. 

The bill will now move on to the Senate to be voted on again.

 

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