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Following a successful year, more states are promoting ranked-choice voting.

Ranked-choice voting is popular right now. The use of ranked-choice systems has grown in the last year, as has interest in implementing them more broadly. In 2023, at least 14 states’ legislatures will consider bills that would shift them to this increasingly popular model.

In ranked-choice elections, voters mark their first choices on their ballots and then rank the remaining candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes on the first count, the election is automatically rescheduled for an instant runoff. The candidate who receives the fewest votes is eliminated, and votes cast for that candidate are recast for voters’ second choices. The process is repeated until a candidate obtains a majority.

Advocates of ranked-choice voting have long argued that the system benefits moderate candidates who do not pander to either party’s fringes and instead seek to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

State legislators from both major parties appear to be paying attention to that argument.

According to an NBC News review, lawmakers in 14 states have introduced, filed, or prefiled 27 bills that propose various iterations of ranked-choice voting just two weeks into 2023.

Some bills propose using the system for statewide and federal elections, while others propose using it only for primary elections. Some states’ bills propose only using ranked-choice voting for local elections, while others propose a temporary pilot system that would test the use of ranked-choice voting for a set number of years.

The variety and quantity highlight a growing trend in American elections: ranked-choice voting is clearly on the rise.

“We’re already seeing a lot of state legislation this year, and we’re going to see a lot more,” said Rob Richie, president and CEO of FairVote, a national nonpartisan organisation that has worked for decades to advance the use of ranked-choice voting in the United States. “Some of it will go away.”

Last week, four state lawmakers from both major parties in Virginia introduced bills to advance ranked-choice voting in the state. Two would allow it for presidential primaries beginning in 2024, one for all primary elections, and one would expand the state’s current ranked-choice pilot programme to include all local elections.

Virginia lawmakers passed a pilot programme for ranked-choice voting in local elections through 2031 in 2020, and only a few municipalities have used it so far. The state GOP chose a gubernatorial nominee using a ranked-choice voting system at its state convention in 2021. Supporters of the system argue that it makes it easier for a candidate with broad crossover appeal to advance; Glenn Youngkin, the winner, went on to win the general election.

“Advocates from all over the country point to the Republican nominating contest in Virginia as a prominent successful test case. That is significant because it is sometimes portrayed as a progressive issue when it is not. It benefits both parties, and that’s a great example of it being used on the right,” said Liz White, executive director of UpVote Virginia, a nonpartisan election reform organisation that advocates for ranked-choice voting.

“It appears that both parties in Virginia are steadily moving down the road toward accepting RCV on a larger scale,” White said.

In Connecticut, Democrat state Rep. Keith Denning introduced legislation to establish a ranked-choice voting system for all state and federal elections, and Democrat Rep. David Michel introduced legislation to allow ranked-choice voting in all local and municipal elections.

Oklahoma and Montana legislators introduced bills that would allow officials to implement ranked-choice voting in all elections, and Wyoming legislators proposed establishing a pilot programme for its use in local and municipal elections in the state.

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