Ranked choice voting shifts the way candidates interact with constituents and with one another that can lead to higher voter participation.
Ranked choice voting incentivizes greater civility on the campaign trail because candidates need to appeal to all voters, not just to their base of support. As Portland Mayor Mike Brennan put it, “In other campaigns if somebody had a lawn sign of your opponent on the lawn, you walked by. In this case, you stopped and still talked to them.”
On average and across the country, voter turnout has declined in recent years. There are positive indications that ranked choice voting fosters an environment of higher voter participation. One of the best examples of the impact ranked choice voting can have on the democratic process is the 2011 Mayoral race in Portland. In an off-year election, Portland experienced better than 40% turnout, much higher than the 25% percent predicted by the Portland City Clerk’s Office. Cities in California and Minnesota that use ranked choice voting report higher than average voter participation.