Shelby County Election Commission demonstrates new "Ranked Choice Voting" system

By: Lauren Coleman

Updated:
SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. - The Shelby County Election Commission held a meeting Tuesday to demonstrate a new way of voting. The method is called "Ranked Choice Voting" 
 
Ranked choice voting has been discussed for some time locally. Back in 2009, voters actually selected this method to eliminate run-off elections, but the commission said they now have the equipment to implement it. 
 
A new system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference instead of voting for a single candidate will be used in Memphis City Council elections. 
 
Election Administrator Linda Philips demonstrated "Ranked Choice Voting" in a Shelby County Election Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon. 
 
"Well, basically a voter selects a first, second, and third choice for their single member city council district. And if no candidate has a majority, then the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated, and their second place votes are added to the totals."
 
This process continues until one candidate has the majority. But a ballot will be exhausted if all the candidates a voter ranked have lost. 
 
"The theory between ranked choice voting is... first off, it does eliminate run off-elections. So, it does save money. It has more participation. Participation in the 2015 election, run-off election was very very low," Philips said. 
 
This method is already being used in various places like San Francisco, Minneapolis, and British Commonwealth countries.People who attended the meeting had opposing views of the new system, but think it will be effective with voter education. 
 
Steve Mulroy, a professor of law at the University of Memphis, said, "The ballot in 2008 certified that is was going to save a quarter million dollars a year. It's quicker. You don't have to wait six weeks. Turn out is better." 
 
Educator Ruby Jones said, "I fear that a lot of people, if they aren't full informed with what's going on with the ranked choice voting will end up exhausting their ballots before it gets to be counted."  
 
This method will not be implemented until October of 2019 during the next Memphis city elections. 
 
In the meantime, the commission will be studying and testing the system to answer questions and confusions about how this will work in Memphis. 
 
Political experts told FOX13 this method has many benefits, but also has some loose ends. 

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