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Republicans to Use Ranked Choice Voting for May 8th Primary

Republicans are preparing to select their statewide candidates in a May 8th convention. And, they'll be using a new method of selecting winners.

Ranked-choice voting will allow Republicans to select not just their first-choice for governor. But also a second choice, and a third choice and even a seventh choice. If none of the candidates gets a majority on the first round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. And then voters who wanted the eliminated candidate play an important role in what happens next.  


"Let's say, for example, you're going to vote for someone like, for example, Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson," says conservative analyst Matt Colt Hall talking about the race for governor.  


"You vote for Sheriff Johnson, and Sheriff Johnson loses and she is out. But let's say you put Pete Snyder as your second choice. Then that vote for Octavia is thrown out, but the person's second choice as Pete Snyder will count as their vote," he explains. 


Mark Rozell at George Mason University's Schar School says the end result of all this vote counting is that it'll prevent someone with strong factional appeal from securing the nomination with 25 or 30% of the vote. 


"There is a lot of concern about one candidate in particular, Amanda Chase, who has perhaps strong support among a particular faction within the Republican Party but not broad-based support," says Rozell.  


The Republican convention on May the 8th will take place in 37 locations across Virginia. All three of the statewide races will go through multiple rounds of ranked choice voting until candidates can achieve at least 50% of the vote.


This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.