News Release

Iowa Caucus and Rank Choice Voting

ROB RICHIE, [currently in Iowa] rr at fairvote.org, @FairVote
Richie is president of FairVote, a nonpartisan electoral reform organization.

He just wrote a piece for the Chicago Tribune in which he states: “Iowa at least gives supporters of weaker candidates a backup vote. If, for example, a candidate earns 5 percent at a caucus and isn’t viable for that precinct, those voters can move to have their vote count for their next choice who has enough support to win delegates. Half of all Iowa Democrats may well end up supporting a backup choice. This makes more votes count, and rewards candidates who can help unify the party by picking up support from trailing candidates.

“But it still doesn’t change the real potential that the ‘winner’ might have lost badly in a head-to-head matchup against the second-place finisher. That’s why parties should fully embrace ranked-choice voting. One of the year’s most encouraging developments is that early Democratic voters in Nevada and all Democratic voters in Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas and Wyoming will cast ranked-choice ballots in their party-run presidential contests.

“With ranked-choice voting, voters rank candidates in order of choice: first, second and so on. If voters’ first choice has enough support to win delegates, their ballots will count for that candidate. Otherwise, those ballots will end up counting for the candidate ranked next who is viable.”

See FairVotes resources on “RCV for Presidential Nominations.”

FairVote commissioned YouGov to conduct a national poll of 1,002 likely Democratic presidential primary voters in the fall, see Vox report: “Elizabeth Warren leads Joe Biden in ranked-choice poll.”