(Updates at 7:25 p.m. on 7/18/23) Arlington County is not adopting ranked-choice voting for the general election this November.
When voters hit the polls or mail in their ballots this fall, they will pick two candidates just like they would in previous two-seat years. Those who get the largest plurality of votes — even if it doesn’t constitute a majority — will win a seat.
In June, voters in the Arlington County Democratic Primary used ranked-choice voting for the first time, in Arlington and in Virginia, to choose two people to run as Democrats for County Board this fall. They selected Maureen Coffey and Susan Cunningham to face Republican Juan Carlos Fierro and independent Audrey Clement.
On Saturday, the Board discussed whether to adopt it for the general election and decided against it — for now.
During the discussion, no Arlington County Board members said they were ready to move forward. They hinted at a future adoption, however, and praised the Dept. of Elections for what they said was a flawless execution of the new system.
Board members expressed concerns, however, about how votes are counted when two seats are up and the quality of outreach to voters about the new system, particularly people of color, renters and young people.
Dubbed “single transferable vote,” votes for eliminated candidates are transferred to subsequent choices and a portion of a winning candidate’s votes are transferred to subsequent choices.
“This isn’t no forever,” said Board Vice-Chair Libby Garvey. “There’s real ramifications that people haven’t totally wrestled with. We need to understand before we move forward.”
She questioned whether a different tabulation method could have yielded a different outcome as well as whether the method did not equally count everyone’s second-choice vote.
County Board Chair Christian Dorsey wanted to see voters try out the method in a primary with only one open seat. He said this typically uses a tabulation style known as “instant runoff” and may be more commonly understood.
“While I don’t really see it as proper and appropriate to continue this for the general, I do hope that everyone will agree at least later on this year — or as soon as possible — to commit to doing this again for the next primary season and the next general election, when our community education can be a lot more consistent with what they think they know RCV to be,” Dorsey said.
Meanwhile, a majority of the 15 public speakers on Saturday urged the Board to adopt the method in all future elections.
Liz White, Executive Director of UpVote Virginia, acknowledged that tabulation remains a sticking point for Arlington voters but praised how it went this June.
“This Board passed the pilot program with unanimous support, the registrar’s office received no complaints on Election Day, and the county reports that a majority of voters liked RCV and want to use it again,” she said. “This community should be very proud, and it is our hope that Arlington will build on this positive momentum, and that the members of the Board will commit to using RCV in the future.”
Arlington County Civic Federation President John Ford likewise asked for approval in a statement released before the discussion.
“Ranked choice voting provides voters with more power because they can give more information regarding their candidate choices and preferences on their ballot,” he said. “Simply put, a stronger voice for Arlington voters means a stronger Arlington. I hope that you will help give them that voice.”
“In a close election, voters might not trust that the election was performed correctly, even if it was,” he said at the Saturday meeting.
“If you’d like to get a true sense of the public opinion on RCV for decision making, please make a sincere effort to gather the perspectives of all residents, especially Black and [Latino] residents whose voices are all too often marginalized in this community,” she said.
For proof the county did not do that, she cited the results of a county survey after the primary. Most respondents were white, home-owning voters and older than 60.
As for the results, the majority of responses from some 2,450 participants were positive.
“When asked to rate their experience with RCV, 57% of respondents indicated ‘positive’ or ‘exceptional,’ while 29% and 13% indicated ‘negative’ and ‘fair,’ respectively,” a county report said.
There was slightly more disagreement over whether and how it should be used going forward, but a near-majority supported its adoption in every subsequent election.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
There’s no official word on its website, but it looks like Bar Ivy in Clarendon may have closed permanently.
There’s persistence, and then there is Audrey Clement and her decade-plus effort to get elected to local office in Arlington. Clement talked with ARLnow editor Scott Brodbeck to talk about…
Makers Union, an upscale gastropub, is set to open its doors in Pentagon City next week, says Alex Brown, the restaurant’s director of operations. This opening marks the third Makers Union location in the D.C. Metropolitan area, following the debut of its Reston location three years ago and a recent opening at the Wharf in early October.
Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.