Ranked Choice Voting
Adopted ONLY by Arlington County for Its Local Elections ‧ Starting June 2023
Ranked choice voting lets you rank candidates instead of voting for just one. You’ll have a voice in deciding who represents you, even if your first-choice candidate doesn’t win.
In 2020, the General Assembly passed HB1103, giving cities and counties the option to adopt ranked choice voting for local governing bodies, such as city councils or boards of supervisors. Arlington County is the first locality in the state to take advantage of this option.
Voters rank candidates in order of preference. You can rank as many or as few candidates as you like.
All first-choice votes are counted. If nobody wins a majority, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated. Second choice votes from voters whose preferred candidate was eliminated are transferred to those corresponding candidates. If there's still no candidate with enough votes to win, the process is repeated until there’s a clear winner.
First round counting will begin on election night. Additional rounds will occur after all ballots have been received and may take up to 7 days to determine a winner.
Mark your top candidate under First Choice.
Mark your next candidate under Second Choice (not required).
Mark your third candidate under Third Choice (not required),and so on.
You must mark at least one candidate for your vote to count. Each candidate can only be chosen once.
3 ways to learn more about Ranked Choice Voting in Virginia:
1. Watch our Videos
2. Practice Using Ranked Choice Voting
Use this ranked choice voting practice ballot to try ranking multiple candidates. Check your results to make sure you marked the ballot successfully, with no errors.
3. Get the FAQs
See the answers to frequently asked questions, or download a printable copy in English, Korean, Spanish, or Vietnamese.
With ranked choice voting (RCV), you get to vote for candidates in order of your preference. This lets you “rank” your vote—first choice, second choice, third choice, and so on.
Ballots are counted in rounds in which candidates receiving the fewest votes are eliminated. Then, their supporters’ ballots are counted toward the next choice indicated on their ballot.
All first-choice votes are counted. If no candidate has the required number of votes to win after first round votes are counted, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated.
Then, in the second round of vote counting, voters who ranked the eliminated candidate as their first choice will have their vote count for the candidate they ranked second. And then for the candidate they ranked third. This process continues until a candidate meets the required threshold to win.
In 2020, the General Assembly passed HB1103, giving cities and counties the option to adopt ranked choice voting for local governing bodies, such as city councils or boards of supervisors.
Arlington County is the first locality in the state to take advantage of this option.
Ranked choice voting was used by the Republican Party of Virginia in its statewide nominating elections in 2021. Arlington will be the first locality in the state to adopt ranked choice voting for its County Board primaries. Several other localities are considering RCV for their upcoming November elections.
Voters can rank as few or as many candidates as they would like.
Yes, but your vote will only count once for that candidate. Ranking one candidate as your first, second and third choice is the same as leaving the second and third choices blank. You do not improve a candidate’s chances of winning by voting for the candidate more than once.
No. Each candidate can only be ranked once to reflect your order of preference (i.e., first choice, second choice, and so on).
Ranked choice voting election results will not be known on Election Day. Results can only be determined after all ballots cast have been received and all provisional ballots considered. Due to the initial delay in vote counting to determine the total universe of ballots cast, confirming the winner (or winners) of ranked choice voting elections may take up to 7 days.
In the U.S., 28 states have used ranked choice voting in at least one jurisdiction, and Maine and Alaska use ranked choice voting statewide.