By: Wes Zieke
The pioneer spirit is alive and well in Colorado, this time manifesting itself as legislation to change the way Coloradans vote in certain elections. In 2021, Colorado signed HB-1071 into law making it easier for cities and towns to switch over to a Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) scheme in their nonpartisan elections. RCV is an increasingly popular electoral system, though only two states currently use it for all of their congressional and state elections (Alaska and Maine). So, what does HB-1071 do? To answer that question, we first need to know what RCV is and what it purports to address.
RCV is a voting system that allows voters to rank their choices from most to least preferable. Next, the votes are tallied and if a single candidate gets over half of the first-choice votes, that candidate wins and the election is over. However, if no candidate receives over half the first-choice votes, an instant runoff begins. In the instant runoff, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and everyone who voted for the eliminated candidate will have their second choice receive their vote. This can take several rounds, but it ultimately ensures that the winning candidate gets more than half of the votes. Does that make RCV the “perfect” voting system, or even an improvement?