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It doesn't look likely state lawmakers will expand ranked choice voting this year

A placard that says "Vote Here" stands next to a street. Summertime foliage is in the background.
Jahd Khalil
/
Radio IQ

Lawmakers will be on the ballot this year, and they'll also be making decisions about how the ballot is organized.

Ranked choice voting has gained more prominence ever since Republicans used it to select Glenn Youngkin as their candidate for governor in a 2021 nominating convention. Now, lawmakers are considering expanding the ability of voters to rank their choices when voting. It's an idea that has a lot of opposition, including Diana Howard who testified before a House committee that ranked choice voting is a bad idea.

"It's confusing and complicated," Howard said. "And if you don't trust the machine right now to count one plus one plus one, you're going to now do it with an algorithm and throw out ballots if your first choice isn't there?"

Delegate Glenn Davis is a Republican from Virginia Beach who says elections for school board and town councils should be able to use in ranked choice voting – especially in places like Arlington, where the County Board will be selected with ranked choice voting.

"It doesn't matter whether you like ranked choice voting or don’t like ranked choice voting. Doesn't matter," Davis says. "We have ranked choice voting in the commonwealth of Virginia. That's it. End of story. Arlington, as we heard, is about to use ranked choice voting. So, the question we have in front of us is do we want a consistency on the ballot between local school boards and the governing body, or do we want to have that confusion?"

Republicans on a House committee rejected that bill Wednesday, and they set aside all the other efforts to expand ranked choice voting heading into the upcoming election cycle, which will include all 100 members of the House and all 40 members of the Senate.

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.