Two years after the city voted to adopt ranked choice voting (RCV) for city council elections, 64.4% of voters favored expanding the reform to include elections for mayor, schoolboard commissioner, and ward election officers.
Additionally, Tuesday marked the first-time voters across all wards had the opportunity to use ranked choice voting to elect their city councilors since the 2021 city charter change.
“Burlington voters sent a crystal-clear message today. They liked ranked choice voting and they want more of it,” said Sam McGinty, VPIRG’s democracy advocate. “It’s no surprise that Burlingtonians prefer a method of voting that gives them more choices and stronger voices in elections.”
Representatives of VPIRG have also been educating Burlingtonians about using ranked choice voting. Spending the past few weeks phone banking, sending mailers, and promoting video explainers on social media and CCTV. Additionally, VPIRG worked with local business leaders like Ben and Jerry’s to run a mock RCV election with some of the ice-cream icon’s most famous flavors. The mock election provided voters a fun and informative opportunity to see RCV in action.
At polling locations on Tuesday, VPIRG conducted exit interviews to gauge voter understanding and interest. The interviews routinely found that voters had a lot of positive things to say about RCV, and that it was easy to use.
“We spoke with many voters as they exited the polls today,” said Sinead Murray, VPIRG’s democracy associate. “They found the idea of ranking candidates to be simple and empowering. It’s easy to see why voters want to expand ranked choice voting.”
After using ranked choice voting today, Burlington joined a growing list of over 60 cities, counties, and states that use the reform. This includes statewide use in Maine and Alaska. Additionally, five states used the system in the 2020 democratic primary for president.
Vermont legislators are actively considering a policy that would put ranked choice voting in place for the 2028 presidential primary.
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