Gov. Lamont forms task force to explore ranked choice voting

Ranked choice voting could be a game-changer for unaffiliated candidates and crowded party primaries, but some voters aren’t sold yet.

John Craven

Jun 10, 2024, 10:14 PM

Updated 9 days ago

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Big changes could be coming to Connecticut elections. Gov. Ned Lamont is forming a task force to look at “ranked choice voting.”
Instead of picking one candidate, you could rank your picks. Ranked choice voting could be a game-changer for unaffiliated candidates and crowded party primaries, but some voters aren’t sold yet.
HOW IT WORKS
Ranked choice voting is exactly what it sounds like.
When you cast a ballot, you select a first choice – followed by a second and third choice, and so on. If your favorite candidate doesn’t get enough votes, they drop out and your vote is reassigned to your backup pick.
THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES
Ranked choice voting could be a major boost to unaffiliated and minor party candidates.
In 2018, Ned Lamont edged past Republican Bob Stefanowski to win his first term as governor. But a third name captured a lot of attention: businessman Oz Griebel.
“We believe that the two-party system is broken,” he told News 12 Connecticut in 2018.
Despite all the buzz, Griebel only captured 4% of the vote. His running mate, Monte Frank, thinks people were afraid of wasting their vote.
“If I had a dime for every voter who came up to me or told Oz, ‘We would have voted for you, but we were worried about that other guy – whether it be Bob Stefanowski or Ned Lamont – winning the race,’ I’d be fairly rich at this point,” Frank said.
NEW TASK FORCE
That could all change though.
Frank is part of a new task force that Lamont just announced to examine ranked choice voting. The group will craft a bill for lawmakers to consider next year.
“I think it makes sense, but that’s why we have a task force – to weigh it,” Lamont said Monday. “Is it too complicated for people? Is it necessary to help us guide where we want to go? Will candidates be a little more likely to move toward the center because they want to get that second chance vote?”
The new task force includes Republicans, Democrats and third parties – as well as state and local election officials. Their first meeting is this Friday.
PARTY PRIMARIES
Some form of ranked choice voting is already used in 28 other states, including New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine.
In Connecticut, Lamont said it would start with local elections and party primaries.
“With the primaries, it would be interesting when there are eight people running in the Republican presidential election,” he said. “If there was ranked choice voting, it would be interesting who people’s second choice was.”
Ranked choice could have given Lamont a different opponent in 2018. Stefanowski won the GOP nomination with just 29% of the vote against a crowded field of four other Republicans. Under a ranked choice system, the winner would have needed just above 50%.
PUBLIC CONVINCED?
Not all voters are convinced.
“Isn’t the whole point to vote for one person, and then that person is going to win, and whoever gets the most votes wins?” asked Danny Maillet, of Monroe.
Others think it could level the playing field, especially in crowded primaries.
“I think it’s a great idea. It could probably shorten the time to get someone in seat when there’s been an issue with the vote,” said Charlie Callahan, of Darien. “I’m a moderate. I often times think about the independent, but usually they don't have a great shot, so I don’t.”
Connecticut is on track to purchase new vote tabulating machines, which would be necessary for ranked choice voting. The Secretary of the State’s Office is currently accepting bids for new machines, which will be placed throughout the state.


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