Elliott Plans Renewed Push for Ranked Choice Voting in Connecticut Legislature in 2025

State Rep. Josh Elliott, D-Hamden (CT Examiner).


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A state legislator is planning to put forward a ranked choice voting bill next year, claiming the method provides a better way to vote, is less combative and more strategic. 

State Rep. Josh Elliott, D-Hamden, who introduced similar measures in 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023, said he believes more lawmakers are learning about the process and are open to bringing it to Connecticut.

Currently, three states — Maine, Alaska and Hawaii — and 24 cities and counties across the United States use ranked choice voting.

“I think it could pass [in 2025], although I do not think it will be a homerun,” Elliott told CT Examiner on Thursday. “I think there is just enough support for this bill to get over the finish line. A lot of people are very interested in the topic.”

Ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, allows voters to submit a ballot ranking candidates in order of preference; at least three candidates are needed in an election to trigger the voting method. A candidate wins outright if they receive at least 51 percent of the vote. Otherwise, tabulators eliminate the last-place candidate, whose ballot preferences are then reallocated to the other candidates according to the preference of the voters. Successive rounds of elimination and reallocation follow until a candidate has 51 percent.

Advocates of ranked choice voting say it increases voters’ choices, is more democratic and promotes representative outcomes. However, those opposed argue it’s not practical and violates the tenet of one person, one vote. 

“I think it’s just a better way to vote,” Elliott said. “There are the arguments that it makes campaigns a little bit less combative because there’s actually a benefit to being somebody’s second favorite. To a degree, I also think it helps more moderate candidates so you have less far left and less far right candidates. I think it also ensures that whoever gets elected has the majority of the people behind them.” 

If the measure passes, Elliott said he’d suggest having ranked choice voting for presidential primaries to start, with an option for municipalities to offer it as well. The voting method could later be incorporated for offices like governor and state legislators.

“I first want to get people comfortable with the concept of rank choice,” he said.

The implementation of ranked-choice voting in Connecticut gubernatorial and state legislative races may encounter a challenge, however, from a formal opinion issued by Attorney General William Tong to House Speaker Matt Ritter on the issue in January.

“This is a close call. But, I must conclude that legislation implementing RCV in state general elections would not pass constitutional muster absent a constitutional amendment,” Tong wrote. 

But Elliott told CT Examiner that Tong ultimately left the question of having a presidential primary via ranked choice voting unanswered. 

“He also didn’t answer the question on the municipal option. And, to be clear, he is not the final arbiter. He’s just a very strong voice in this debate,” he said. 

The Secretary of the State’s Office declined to comment on Elliott’s proposal, and Connecticut lawmakers remain divided on the issue.

State Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, a ranking member of the Government, Administrations and Elections Committee, said he disagrees with the concept and would be voting against the measure next year if he gets reelected.

“It makes the ballot ridiculously complicated. I think a lot of people are confused already, especially when you have a lot of races going on at the same time, which happens a lot,” he said. “… [It] goes against the concept of one person, one vote. … Why are you trying to undermine the simple concept of majority vote?”

In a polarized political world, Sampson also said many voters might object to having to pick their second choice.

State Rep. Matt Blumenthal, D-Stamford, however, said he is keeping an open mind.

“I’m interested in learning more and seeing information presented in a more comprehensive fashion about how it has been implemented around the country,” said Blumenthal, co-chair of the GAE Committee along with State Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly.

Blumenthal said the state Legislature addressed other voting-related matters last year and did not have the bandwidth to consider ranked choice voting. However, Blumenthal said a working group task force will be formed to study future voting measures.

“I’m in favor of measures that ensure our elections run smoothly,” he said.

Minor parties like the Green Party of Connecticut and the Connecticut Forward Party have endorsed the idea of ranked choice voting. Green Party of Connecticut Co-Chair Justin Paglino said it allows people to vote for candidates that better represent them.

“I want to have a multiparty democracy where people can align their vote with their values, with whatever candidate they feel best represents them,” said Paglino, who ran on his party’s ticket in 2020 and 2022 against U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and is running against U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., this year. “Instead, they have a system where you feel pressured to vote for one of what you perceive to be only two viable options, and often you are ending up voting for the lesser evil. We don’t get to vote our true values, so our democracy isn’t representative. We don’t get to have the people’s values represented in our government under a two-party system, and the two-party system is really a product of plurality voting.”

Elliott argued that the downsides of ranked choice voting are all administrative in nature.

“It takes longer to tabulate in that you need all the ballots in one centralized location, which is something Connecticut is slowly working its way toward but we are certainly not there yet,” he said, noting that there would be no additional costs to implement the voting process.

Elliott said ballots and tabulators would have to be changed, but pointed out that officials currently do that in every election cycle.

“We’d need to create a centralized system, but these are things we are on the pathway of doing now,” he said.

Robert Storace

Robert Storace is a veteran reporter with stints at New Britain Herald, the New Haven Register, the Connecticut Post, Hartford Business Journal and the Connecticut Law Tribune. Storace covers the State Capitol for CT Examiner. T: 203 437 5950