RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Richmond City Council has rejected a proposal to begin using ranked voting to the next municipal elections in 2024 after several council members expressed concerns about the implementation of the system and the history of voter disenfranchisement.

For the preferential choice system, voters list candidates on their ballots in order of preference. If a candidate obtains more than 50% of the votes for first place, he is declared the winner of the race.

Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and voters who had that person as their first choice will have their next choice counted in the next round. The process continues until one candidate obtains the majority of votes.

Preferential voting has been used for elections across the country, including in Virginia for the 2021 Republican State Convention. Proponents argue the system allows voters to choose a consensus candidate, while critics say the process is difficult for voters to understand.

But several Richmond council members shared their concerns when the city’s proposal was discussed at the organizational development standing committee meeting on Tuesday.

“Voting in Richmond is neither fair nor equitable,” Ellen Robertson, council vice president and representative for the 6th district, said Tuesday.

The proposal called for preferential-choice voting to be used when all nine council districts are on the ballot in the 2024 election. Due to limitations in state law giving localities the ability to adopt the vote preferential, the proposal did not include candidates for mayor and the city school board.

As major cities, including New York, have embraced ranked voting and localities in Virginia now have the option, Robertson said, “Richmond’s history is enough that we are no longer used as a model for test”.

Robertson and other council members, including Dr. Michael Jones, have called for automatic restoration of voting rights for those who have been incarcerated, an effort that failed at the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year.

In the end, the city council voted 6 to 3 to strike the legislation from the agenda for the September 12 meeting.

City Council on Tuesday approved changes to move some polling places around the city, including moving the central absentee voters constituency from the second floor of the Registrar General’s office to the first floor.

Stay with 8News for updates.

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