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 (among others):


  • voter education and outreach
  • upgrading election systems
  • 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. The cost analysis of adopting RCV is complicated, and our team of election administrators is working to build out more detailed resources for this particular section. It will be added to the Resource Center soon. In the meantime, if you have a specific question, please send us a message on our contact us page



Maine Ranked Choice Voting Costs Assessment (2014)

RCV Resource Center Analysis of Maine RCV Costs (2016)

Telluride "Costs and Outcomes" Memo on RCV Implementation (2016)