With four Seattle City Councilmembers not planning to run for reelection so far, this year’s primary campaigning is likely to be lively.
That could mean long lists of candidates from which to choose – in 2015, for example, the first time district councilmembers were elected, nine people were on the ballot here in District 1. In 2021, 15 people ran for mayor.
Last November, Seattle voters approved a ballot measure to implement “ranked-choice voting” in city elections, in which you would rank the candidates in your order of preference, not just choose and vote for one. Advocates say it “improves fairness in elections … and supports more representative outcomes.”
But you won’t get the chance to try it out this year. We asked King County Elections recently about how it’s being implemented, and spokesperson Halei Watkins replied, “Ranked choice voting will not be implemented ahead of this year’s City Council elections. The measure requires implementation by 2027 and there is a long list of factors and decisions to be made about what exactly RCV will look like for Seattle voters. King County Elections will also need to coordinate with both the City of Seattle and the Secretary of State’s Office throughout the planning process. Key factors include ballot design, how many candidates voters will be able to rank, upgrades to our tabulation system to be able to count RCV ballots, how questions of voter intent will be handled, how results will be reported and on what schedule, and more. And then, of course, we’ll also need to do robust voter education on how it all works.”
There’s a chance it might be ready sooner, Watkins added: “It is possible that we could implement before 2027 and we’ll be looking to implement as quickly as we can while ensuring the same high standard of accuracy, transparency, and accessibility that we pride ourselves on, but this year is not likely.” For starters, they have to settle on a ballot design before they can start working on tabulation upgrades. But work has begun, Watkins says – “we’re very much in early planning stages and we’re connecting with the City and (state) on next steps.”
If you’re curious, places in the U.S. where some form of ranked-choice voting is being used are listed here.