FORT COLLINS — The City of Fort Collins is now among the largest communities in the state to change the way its municipal elections will be held.
Voters on November 8 decisively passed ballot question 2C, adding the northern Colorado city to a list of municipalities that includes Boulder (beginning in 2023), Telluride and Basalt in changing the way city council members are elected by using Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).
The measure won with 58 percent of the nearly 68,000 ballots cast.
Nationwide, nearly two dozen cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Minneapolis, and many others let voters “rank” who they’d prefer to hold an office. Maine is the only state that uses the method.
Aspen voters approved RCV but then repealed it after running into logistical problems implementing it.
The new system will not go into effect until 2025 to give the city time to develop the full process for how it will be utilized. Among the drawbacks to RCV is the cost and complex implementation.
Use of RCV in the 2021 New York City mayoral primary resulted in a debacle that called into question the integrity of the system after election officials were forced to claw back inaccurate preliminary results just hours after releasing the numbers.
The Fort Collins effort was led by former state representative and now Mayor Jeni Arndt, who began pushing for RCV when she was in the Colorado legislature, claiming it brings “civility” to elections.
RCV is a system in which voters weigh in on all the candidates running for a particular office, but rank those candidates in the order of preference.
The candidate who wins more than 50 percent of first choice votes wins the election. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent, the candidate with the fewest-first-choice votes is eliminated and the ballots with that candidate as a first choice will have their second choice counted. This process is repeated until one candidate has a majority.
“It adds to civility in the campaign because every single person campaigning needs to talk to every single constituent,” Arndt said in a video promoting the ballot measure. “Because even if you are not their first choice, you might be their second choice.”
Opponents to the idea, however, said RCV diminishes the idea of representative government.
“I want to vote for who I think is going to represent me, who I think is going to best represent my personal interests,” Fort Collins resident Kelly Notarfrancesco told Complete Colorado in a previous interview. “With ranked choice maybe there’s a couple people on there that I really want to vote for, but there are a couple people on there that I cannot stand. I’m being forced to circle bubbles for people who I don’t want, taking away my right to vote for the one person I want.”
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