RCV Candidate Tip #1: Using the Language of Ranked Choice Voting in Your Campaign

This is the first of our weekly tips about campaigning using Ranked Choice Voting. Keep an eye out for a new tip every Wednesday.

Asking Voters Specifically for their First-Choice Vote

No matter the number of candidates in the race or whether you anticipate lower-choice votes being a factor, it should always benefit you to use the language of ranked voting when talking about the race and asking voters to support you. In a traditional election you might have asked, "Can I count on your vote on Tuesday?" Under Ranked Choice Voting it benefits you to instead ask, "Can I count on your first-choice vote on Tuesday?"

The first-choice votes are most important in determining the winner, and you should be explicit in asking for this level of support. While a candidate may need some second and lower rankings in order to ultimately win, it is mainly first-choice votes that determine which candidates get into the final runoff count. Second and third preferences may be necessary, but first preferences are always essential.

Also, using this language when talking to voters who already support you can help clarify any questions your supporters might have about the RCV process or filling out their ballot. Having your supporters rank their ballot can’t hurt you, but encouraging voters not to rank can make it more difficult for you to gain lower-choice votes.

Using this Language in your Campaign Materials

This specific ask that voters rank you #1 or give you their first-choice vote can easily find a home on your campaign’s printed materials. Again, using phrases like “Vote Your Name #1” or “Your Name First Choice” doesn’t require much extra space or explanation -- and can go a long way in shoring up critical votes. This example from Cambridge, MA shows how a specific ask for a first-choice vote can even be incorporated into a candidate sign.

We Can Help!

Our FairVote Minnesota communications team and I would be happy to review any draft campaign materials before printing to help you include this language about RCV. Just contact me at Erik.Anderson@fairvotemn.org or 612-723-7943 and we can get started.