At-Large Ranked Choice Voting
Ranked Choice Voting is sometimes called Proportional Representation.
Lowell’s current voting system is “at-large,” meaning that each councilor is elected by everyone who votes in the City. Under the Ranked Choice option, each councilor would still be elected at-large. The difference between the current system and ranked choice voting is the way votes are weighted and counted. Under the current system, every voter can vote for up to nine candidates for council and six candidates for school committee. Votes are weighted equally and tallied overall, and those candidates with the highest number of votes overall are elected.
Under Ranked Choice, instead of voting for up to nine or six candidates without indicating any preference between candidates, each voter ranks their choices in order of preference (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.). When votes are counted, each person’s “Number One” vote is weighted more heavily than their “Number Two” vote, which is weighted more heavily than their “Number Three” vote, etc. The result is “proportional representation” – for example, if Group A comprises 70% of the electorate and members of Group A vote similarly to one another, and Group B comprises 30% of the electorate and members of Group B vote similarly to one another, then Group A can expect that approximately 70% of persons ultimately elected will reflect their preferences, and Group B can expect that approximately 30% of persons ultimately elected will reflect their preferences. Other voting jurisdictions that use Ranked Choice Voting are Cambridge, MA and Minneapolis, MN.
Ranked Choice Informational Video This video gives an explanation of how ranked choice voting works in Cambridge, MA, and was presented as supporting information at the Community Engagement Event on August 20th, 2019.