Running elections can be expensive, and ensuring all costs of an election are accounted for requires broad knowledge and understanding of the tasks of an election official. States vary tremendously in their administration of elections, and so costs vary widely too. This will also be the case for ranked choice voting. Ranked choice voting impacts election costs in a number of ways. It can decrease costs through:
- elimination of runoffs
- elimination of second primaries
- elimination of off-cycle primaries
Research has also shown that RCV may decrease the amount of money candidates themselves spend on elections.
RCV can, however, increase costs in these areas:
- upgrading election systems
- voter education and outreach
- candidate education and outreach
- poll worker training
Minneapolis and the Bay Area cities that adopted RCV eliminated primary and runoff elections, respectively, saving the cities the large expense required for those low-turnout elections. However, they each had to invest in upgrading their election systems, either through software or hardware upgrades, and had to invest heavily in voter education and poll worker training.
Resources available on this page are meant to help you understand what costs may be associated with upgrading to ranked choice voting (the two-pager linked to below) and provide actual cost data from jurisdictions using ranked choice voting.
If you have a specific questions about budgeting for RCV, please send us a message on our contact us page.