The polls have closed on VPIRG’s first ever Mock Ranked Choice Voting Vermont Primary Election and there was one clear winner: Ranked Choice Voting itself.
Nearly 1300 voters cast ballots and all of them got the chance to experience a simple, clear method of voting where they could choose candidates who best represented their values without having to worry about anyone being a spoiler.
In an RCV election, if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the first choices, they are declared the winner. If not, the candidate with the fewest first choices is eliminated, and the voters who ranked that candidate first have their second choice counted when the ballots are tabulated again. This process continues until a candidate emerges with majority support.
This method of voting is used in dozens of communities and states across the country and in nations around the world. And VPIRG is working to bring RCV to federal races in Vermont, as well as the presidential primary.
If you want to learn more about Ranked Choice Voting and join the campaign to bring RCV to Vermont check out our campaign website at BetterBallotVermont.org.
Participants in the mock election were allowed to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary and rank their preferred candidates in the elections for U.S. House and Senate.
It’s important to note that because the participants in the mock election were self-selected, the results should not be taken as a scientific measure of current public opinion or used to predict who will actually win the upcoming primary races.
In three of the four primary races covered in the mock election, a majority winner emerged in the first tally of votes. This included the Democratic primary for Senate, where Rep. Peter Welch had 76 percent of the vote to 15 percent for Isaac Evans-Frantz and 9 percent for Niki Thran.
In the Democratic primary for U.S. House, the mock election was carried by current state Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint with 59 percent. Lt. Gov. Molly Gray had 29 percent, followed by Sianay Chase Clifford with 9 percent, and Louis Meyers with 3 percent.
In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, the mock election had former federal prosecutor Christina Nolan at 67 percent besting her opponents Gerald Malloy (20 percent), and Myers Mermel (14 percent).
In each of those races, voters got to rank the candidates in order or preference, but RCV did not come into play since the top choice had majority support in the first tabulation.
In the mock race for the Republican nomination for U.S. House, however, RCV did come into play.
In that race, Ericka Bundy Redic had 39 percent of the votes in the first round, compared to 32 percent for Anya Tynio, and 29 percent for Liam Madden. Under RCV, Liam Madden was eliminated from the race and those who ranked him first had their second-choice votes applied. This then produced a majority winner, with Ericka Bundy Redic getting 54 percent of the second-round vote, compared to Anya Tynio with 46 percent.
It’s actually very common under RCV for the candidate with the most initial first-place votes to go on to win the race with majority support. The difference between this and a plurality election is that we are not left guessing if the top candidate has the majority support of voters. And for the supporters of candidates like Liam Madden, they were able to cast a vote for their preferred candidate without fear of playing spoiler.
To everybody who participated in the mock election – thank you for making your voice heard! And we hope that all eligible Vermont voters participate in the real Vermont primary (which will be plurality winner-take-all) either in-person at their polling place on Tuesday, August 9, 2022 or early in-person at their town clerk’s office or via mail by requesting a mail ballot at https://mvp.vermont.gov/