COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the new year begins, Ohioans can expect a busy year at the polls.

The normal voting process in the state allows individuals to choose one candidate they would like to see in office. However, in a process called ranked-choice voting, voters get to rank all the candidates on the ballot. The process has not been used in Ohio since the 1960s, and now a bill at the Statehouse is looking to ban the system in the Buckeye State. 

What You Need To Know

  • Ranked-choice voting is used in other states across the country, including New York and Maine

  • The process lets people rank their candidates when they cast their vote

  • Supporters say it will bring in more fair representation during elections. However, opponents say it could cause confusion in the election-cycle

The process works by looking at the candidates as a whole. If none of the candidates gets more than 50% of the first place votes, then the last place candidate is eliminated, and the votes from that candidate’s supporters will get divided based on those voters’ second choices. That process continues until one candidate gets a majority of the votes.

“Ranked-choice voting makes it harder to vote,” said Jason Snead, executive director of The Honest Elections Project. “It makes the election systems harder to believe, and it turns voting into a black box.”

The system would open up a path to election for a candidate who, for example, ranked second on a majority of voters’ ballots.

“A lot of Americans across the political spectrum fear that we are in a crisis of democracy and a crisis of unrepresentative representation,” said Kyle Herman, executive director of Rank the Vote Ohio.

Herman said ranked-choice voting could ensure election integrity, and the winner has approval of more voters. 

“Most states like Ohio, we don’t require a majority to win,” Herman said. “So, if more than two candidates run, someone can win with 30 or 40% of the vote, even if 60 or 70% vote against them.” 

The Honest Elections Project, a national nonpartisan voting group, told Spectrum News the system could be a confusing process for voters to understand. They are worried it could contribute to fewer voters heading to the polls. 

“The idea that people are going to be satisfied if their second or third or fourth place picks make it into office doesn’t really strike me as an honest assessment of the situation,” Snead said. “I think it’s better to nip this in the bud prospectively rather than wait for ranked-choice voting to come to an election and potentially cause confusion and cause people to distrust the system.” 

“People don’t understand that there is a better way to vote that can allow them to have more choices,” Herman said. 

The bill to decide the future of ranked-choice voting is currently in committee.