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Ranked-choice voting would eliminate runoffs, save money, group says

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Posted at 10:21 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 10:47:18-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville is headed to another runoff election -- with a cost likely to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That price tag is one reason some are pushing for an end to runoff elections by switching to a different type of voting, where voters rank their choices.

The group Ranked Choices Tennessee held a meeting Monday to connect people with the idea of ranked choice voting.

In a ranked-choice voting system, voters would not just select one person they'd like to see win a particular office -- they would also select a second, third, and successive choices -- a process that would simulate a runoff election right then and there, in case one candidate doesn't reach the currently-required majority to win an office outright.

If a majority isn't reached, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, with their votes going to the other candidates in accordance with their second choices.

Aaron Fowles, a representative with Ranked Choices Tennessee, says the money Nashville could save by eliminating the need for runoff elections could be used to keep other early voting locations open.

"If the election commission knew it didn't have to plan for another election, it could perhaps expand early voting to all satellite voting sites for the full two weeks of early voting, thereby allowing more people access to the ballot box," Fowles said.

Tennessee's state elections coordinator says Tennessee law currently doesn't allow ranked-choice voting.

Both the state and those supporting the practice are waiting on an administrative law judge to weigh in on the issue.