By Mark Bauer
Voters in Texas’ 6th Congressional District just selected their Congressional representative in a special election runoff that seems tailor-made for ranked choice voting.
The special election was held after U.S. Congressman Ron Wright (TX-R) died from COVID-19 in January, shortly after winning his re-election in 2020. In that election, Wright won the vote with 52% of 339,000 votes cast. In the subsequent special election runoff, Jake Ellzey (R) won with less than 10% of the number of votes cast in the general election, beating Congressman Wright’s widow, Susan Wright (R), by just over 2,000 votes. That’s why this election would have been especially suited to the ranked choice voting’s strengths.
General elections always have better turnouts than special elections, especially in presidential years. The 2020 general election proved no different. It’s also true that runoff elections are especially anemic in voter participation. Not only that, but this particular special election included an astounding 23 candidates for voters to select from. In that initial special election, Susan Wright actually bested Ellzey with 15,000 votes to his 10,000. Democrat candidate Jana Lynne Sanchez narrowly missed the runoff, falling behind Ellzey by a mere 354 votes.
Would the outcome of this election been any different had it featured ranked choice voting? There’s no way to know. What is known, however, is that ranked choice voting would have certainly allowed more voters to participate in the selection by avoiding the subsequent runoff. With ranked choice voting, voters can select their candidates in order of preference, and if there is no clear winner by majority, ballots are immediately tallied based on their backup preferences. This means no more visits to the voting booth—it’s all decided that same day. It saves voters time, and it saves the state money from having to reschedule another election day.
If you’re interested in helping get ranked choice voting on the ballot in Texas, visit www.rcvfortexas.org for more information.
Mark Bauer is a producer, entrepreneur, day trader and former Independent candidate for Congress in Texas. Previously he spent 10 years as a legal journalist covering the legal market in Texas and regulatory issues in Washington DC. Mark’s primary interests involve using content and storytelling to help different groups of people better understand one another.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rank the Vote, its members, supporters, funders, or affiliates.