Burlington to use ranked choice voting in council elections

June 15, 2022 GMT


Ranked choice voting will be used again in Vermont’s largest city — but this time only for city council elections.

The Burlington city council on Monday passed an ordinance that officially lays out the details of the “instant runoff retabulation” system, the Burlington Free Press reported.

Voters in March will rank their candidate choices and then the first-choice votes will be tallied. If no candidate wins the majority — more than 50% of votes — the candidate with the fewest number of first-choice votes is removed. The votes of the people who ranked that candidate first will then be moved to their second choice and another tally will be taken. If still no candidate wins, the process is repeated until someone secures a majority.

The Legislature approved the city charter change and Gov. Phil Scott allowed it take effect without his signature. In a letter to lawmakers, he said he was allowing it because ranked choice voting will be limited to Burlington City Council elections.


The Republican governor noted that when all city elections employed ranked choice voting, from 2005 to 2010, the system yielded “flawed results,” the newspaper reported.

Supporters of ranked choice voting say the system eliminates vote-splitting when more than two candidates run, gives voters more selection and backs the notion that officials should earn a majority to be elected. More than two-thirds of Burlington voters approved the charter change.