Glossary Term: ranked choice voting


(The name of the term, use lower case unless it's a proper noun.)

  • ranked choice voting

Preferred Definition

(The definition that we shall use, regardless of whether we, in a particular jurisdiction, use the term differently.)

  • A set of election methods which allow each voter to rank contest options in order of the voter's preference, in which votes are counted in rounds using a series of runoff tabulations to defeat contest options with the fewest votes, and which elects a winner with a majority of final round votes in a single-winner contest and provides proportional representation in multi-winner contests.


(Optional. Use this to clarify the essential context of the definition, if necessary.)

  • Additional features of ranked choice voting include:
    • a ballot counting for a contest option which is defeated will subsequently be counted for the most preferred contest option still in the running
    • for multi-winner contests, votes in excess of the threshold required for election are transferred from winning contest options to other contest options still in the running
    • multi-winner ranked choice voting achieves proportional representation with a granularity approximately inversely proportional to the number of winners to be elected


(Optional but highly encouraged. Any additional expansion on the definition can go here, e.g., if the term is used differently in certain jurisdictions, it can be noted here.)

  • Additional notes on some of the supporting terminology:

    • To generalize to cover contests not between people for office (e.g. the recent Prince Edward Island contest for election method), use "contest option" rather than "candidate" and use "single-winner" and "multi-winner" rather than "single-seat" and "multi-seat". This is generally in line with existing NIST style.
    • Terminology reflecting further changes to the glossary:
      • use "contest option" rather than "contest choice" (the distinction: a ballot provides options, a voter marks choices)
      • use "election method" rather than "voting variation" or "voting method"


(Optional, use this in cases where the term you are adding is not a preferred term. For example, if you want to add parish to the glossary but county is the preferred term, then the glossary entry for parish would be, simply, "See: county".)

  • Insert additional text here.

See Also

(Optional. Use this to include terms that are related to this term.)

  • instant runoff voting (IRV), another term for single-winner ranked choice voting
  • single transferable vote (STV), used especially to denote multi-winner ranked choice voting


(Optional. Use this if there is an abbreviation.)

  • RCV


(Optional. Use this to identify other terms that can be used interchangeably with this term.)


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  • Final.

Suggested Revision

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(Cite sources utilized in defining this term.)

  1. P1622 IEEE Glossary


Was there any consideration of ranked choice instead of ranked order?

-- Chris Hughes - 2016-04-22

This Topic Is Referenced By


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Topic revision: r3 - 2017-03-07 - JohnWack
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