| Julie Carey | NBC4 Washington |
Northern Virginia Republicans will start casting ballots this weekend to nominate candidates for Congress, and in some cases, voters will use ranked choice ballots.
Virginia’s GOP first tested ranked choice voting last year at statewide, drive-up primaries.
When you know that you need to have someone else’s supporters to keep you as their No. 2, a lot of the nastiness kind of goes away.
Many party leaders are convinced the less conventional way of voting leads to more electable nominees.
Led by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Republicans swept statewide races in 2021.
“The takeaway for me, personally, is that the system works,” 11 th District GOP Chairman Steven Knotts said.
It’s a system being used again in both the 10 th District and 11th District GOP primaries this month.
“I think it’s a really good way of, A, having consensus and getting past that 50% mark, and B, just making it more of a party that’s unified behind a candidate because everyone had a voice in that candidate,” Knotts said.
He said it can also make for a more civil primary campaign.
“When you know that you need to have someone else’s supporters to keep you as their No. 2, a lot of the nastiness kind of goes away,” Knotts said.
Ranked choice voting and its expansion is something they’ve been studying at James Madison University’s Center for Civil Engagement. Because it’s only effective in contests with more than three candidates, it’s mostly used in primaries and municipal at-large elections.
“Democracy is an experiment, and so ranked choice voting is really in the experimental stage right now, and we really need more data,” said Dr. Carah Ong Whaley of James Madison.
She said on the plus side, ranked choice voting can result in candidates who provide better representation and better governance.
“As of this month, we now have 55 cities, counties and states that are using ranked choice voting for all voters in their next election,” she said.