Ranked-Choice Working Group Formed

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Governor Ned Lamont announced on June 6 the formation of a working group to explore options to create a ranked-choice voting system in Connecticut.

Officially the Governor’s Working Group on Ranked-Choice Voting, the panel is tasked with developing a legislative proposal by the end of the year that would apply to caucuses, conventions, primaries, and certain municipal elections. Its recommendations and report would be submitted to the General Assembly for consideration in its session that begins in January.

How it works

In typical ranked-choice voting in a single-seat election (e.g., for governor or senator), rather than marking the ballot for only one candidate, voters rank all candidates in order of preference. If a candidate is the first choice of more than half of ballots cast, he or she wins. Otherwise, there is, in effect, an instant runoff.

The candidate with the lowest number of first-choice votes is eliminated. The second choices on ballots cast for him or her are distributed to the remaining candidates. If this puts the new leader over the 50 percent mark, it’s over. Otherwise, the candidate now at the bottom is eliminated, and the process repeats until someone wins a majority.

It works essentially the same way when more than one candidate can be elected to office (e.g., municipal boards), but the main difference is that the threshold to win is less than 50 percent, although limits on electing more than a majority from one party still apply. (Weston’s limit is a bare majority. State law is slightly more permissive for larger elected boards.)

Growing support

Governor Lamont said 29 states currently use ranked-choice voting, at least in certain primaries and elections. In Connecticut, legislation drafted by bipartisan co-sponsors was introduced in 2023, but did not progress beyond a committee hearing.

“Ranked-choice voting is an increasingly popular procedure among various political parties that enables voters to have all their preferences fully considered when choosing candidates for elected office,” said the governor in a statement. “There is a growing consensus in Connecticut that enacting this system will benefit voters.”

Initial members

The governor said the ranked-choice working group may expand over time, but at inception consists of these members:

  • Co-Chair: State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague)
  • Co-Chair: State Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield)
  • Vice Chair: Monte Frank (Past president of the Connecticut Bar Association and 2018 candidate for lieutenant governor under the Griebel-Frank for CT Party)
  • Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz or designee
  • Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas or designee
  • State Representative Aundré Bumgardner (D-Groton, Stonington)
  • State Representative Hilda Santiago (D-Meriden)
  • Annalisa Stravato (Republican Registrar of Voters for the Town of Wilton, executive vice president of the Registrar of Voters Association of Connecticut, and former vice chair of the Connecticut Republican Party)
  • Alexander Russell (Director of the UConn Center for Voting Technology Research)
  • Dan Rosenthal (Former Democratic First Selectman for the Town of Newtown)
  • Lindsay Farrell (Senior political strategist for the national Working Families Party)
  • Ann Reed (Vice president of advocacy for the League of Women Voters of Connecticut)
  • Patricia Spruance (Town Clerk for the Town of Windham and president of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association)
  • Cheri Quickmire (Executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut)

Meetings of the working group will be open to the public. The first meeting is tentatively planned to be held on June 14.

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