Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Vermont Bill Would Add Rank Choice Voting to Presidential Primary Ballots for Military/Overseas Voters

Legislation has been introduced in Vermont to allow military personnel and other overseas voters to utilize rank choice voting in presidential primaries.

Vermont has in-person absentee voting in the 45 days before an election, but the proposal in H 115 would allow those voters overseas and/or in the military to cast a rank choice vote in a presidential primary. The secretary of state in Vermont would prepare the ballot as usual, but military/overseas voters would rank all of the candidates based on preference instead of choosing just one from the pool of candidates. If the most preferred candidate has dropped out/withdrawn from the race by the time of the Vermont primary on March 1, then the highest choice among the remaining active candidates would receive the vote.

For example, if voter X overseas has a rank ordering on his or her ballot of George Pataki followed by Jeb Bush (then the rest), and Pataki has withdrawn, then Bush receives the vote.

This is a clever way of avoiding a wasted vote in a situation where ballots have to go out to military personnel well in advance of primary election day when the field of candidates is still in flux.

NOTE: There is also similar draft legislation in Massachusetts (HD 2394). The Bay state also has a March 1 primary.

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