Arlington County to consider ranked choice voting method for 2023 election

One Northern Virginia county is considering a new way to count ballots for its Board of Supervisors election in 2023.

Arlington County notified residents this week they were considering a move to Ranked Choice Voting for its election in June of 2023.

If the county decides to implement Ranked Choice, it would not affect this Fall’s midterms.

Currently, Takoma Park, Maryland is the only locality in the region that uses Ranked Choice, but Montgomery County, Maryland leaders have expressed support for it.

In short, voters are asked to rank their preferences on the ballot. If a candidate gets a majority, the election is over. If not, the second choice of the lowest first-vote getter is allocated to the remaining candidates.

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Those against Rank Choice think it can be too complicated, and can give people the sense that it’s unfair if the person with the most first-choice-votes could potentially not win.

Katie Cristol is the chair of the Arlington Board of Supervisors who supports the move.

"One of the common misperceptions about rank choice voting is that it’s complicated for voters. When it comes down to actually tabulating the votes, especially in a year when there may be two open seats, or two seats. You’re trying to pick the top two candidates, the tabulation can, indeed get a little complicated. The actual act of voting under a ranked-choice voting system is really easy," Cristol said.

Supporters think it leads to more civil campaigns and leads to more uniformly supported candidates.

Arlington County is soliciting comments on this from citizens and will likely have a hearing on it in the fall to determine if they’ll implement for the 2023 June election.

A Virginia law passed in 2023 allows for Rank Choice Voting in certain local elections.