Single-Winner Ranked Choice Voting

Single-winner ranked choice voting refers to the method of voting and counting of the votes for a single winner contest, such as mayor, governor, or a single-winner district, when only one person is elected to the position. With ranked choice voting, the voter ranks their candidate choices in order of preference, then choices are counted to determine which candidate has more than 50% of the votes after the first round of counting or if additional rounds of counting are needed to reach a majority.

 To learn more about marking a ranked choice ballot, click here.


If a candidate wins more than 50% of the votes cast, a winner is declared, and no other counting will take place. However, if no candidate wins a majority (50% + 1), as seen in the scenario above, counting continues to round two.

In round two, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated from the contest. Even though the candidate has been eliminated, the voters who had that candidate as their first choice will then have their vote count for the candidate they marked as their next choice.


After adding these votes to the totals of the other candidates, you can see below that these candidates' vote totals increase. This process of eliminating the lowest candidates and adding the votes to remaining candidates continues until a candidate receives more than a majority of the remaining votes cast. In the scenario above, Candidate A reached a majority and is declared the winner after Candidate C was eliminated.


For a comparison of single-winner and multi-winner ranked choice voting, download our brief report laying out the benefits and best uses of each method. 

Single-Winner RCV v. Multi-Winner RCV

Watch: Minnesota Public Radio explains how ranked choice voting works to Minneapolis voters