Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
9/24/2022

Chapter 100. Ranked Choice Voting

1VAC20-100-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Active ballot" means a ballot that counts toward an active candidate in the current round of counting.

"Active candidate" means a candidate or person who has not been defeated during a round-by-round vote count. In a count that lasts multiple rounds, the number of active candidates will decrease with each round.

"Duplicate ranking" means a voter has assigned one candidate multiple rankings.

"Election threshold" means the number of votes sufficient for a candidate to be elected in a multi-winner, single transferable vote contest. The election threshold equals the total votes counted for active candidates in the first round of tabulation, divided by the sum of one plus the number of offices to be filled, then adding one, disregarding any fractions. Election threshold = ((Total votes cast)/(Seats to be elected+1))+1, with any fraction disregarded.

"Highest-ranked active candidate" means the active candidate assigned to a higher ranking than any other active candidates.

"Inactive ballot " means a ballot that can no longer be counted due to the ballot having no active candidates in the round.

"Instant runoff voting" means no more than one seat in the office must be filled by the election.

"Ranked choice overvote" means a voter assigned more than one candidate the same ranking.

"Ranked choice voting" means a method of casting and tabulating votes in which (i) voters rank candidates in order of preference, (ii) tabulation proceeds in rounds such that in each round either a candidate or candidates are elected or the last-place candidate is defeated, (iii) votes for voters' next-ranked candidates are transferred from elected or defeated candidates, and (iv) tabulation ends when the number of candidates elected equals the number of offices to be filled. Ranked choice voting is known as "instant runoff voting" when electing a single office and "single transferable vote" when electing multiple offices.

"Ranking" means the ordinal number assigned on a ballot to a candidate to express the voter's preference for that candidate. Ranking number one is the highest ranking, ranking number two is the next-highest ranking, and so on, consecutively, up to the number of candidates indicated on the ballot.

"Round" means a stage of the vote tabulation in which a person may be elected or the last ranked person is defeated.

"Single transferable vote" means more than one seat in the office must be filled by the election.

"Skipped ranking" means a voter has left a ranking unassigned but ranks a candidate at a subsequent ranking.

"Surplus fraction" is a number equal to the quotient of the difference between an elected candidate's vote total and the election threshold, divided by the candidate's vote total, (or (V-T)/V, in which "V" is the elected candidate's vote total and "T" is the election threshold), truncated after four decimal places.

"Surplus vote" means the number of votes a candidate receives beyond the election threshold set for a transferable vote race.

"Transfer value" means the proportion of a vote that a ballot will contribute to its highest-ranked active candidate. Each ballot begins with a transfer value of one. If a ballot contributes to the election of a candidate under 1VAC20-100-50 B, it receives a new transfer value.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. December 3, 2021.

1VAC20-100-20. Administration.

The Department of Elections shall publish on the department website, https://www.elections.virginia.gov, instructions on the administration of ranked choice voting elections.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. December 3, 2021.

1VAC20-100-30. Ranked choice voting.

As prescribed by § 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia, a county board of supervisors or city council may elect by majority to conduct an election for its members by ranked choice voting. The adoption for ranked choice voting shall only be valid for the election specified in the ordinance adopted by the governing body.

1. Adoption to conduct an election by ranked choice voting must be enacted no later than 90 days prior to the date of the specified election.

2. Any locality that adopts to conduct an election by ranked choice voting must electronically transfer the signed ordinance to the Department of Elections promptly.

3. No ranked choice voting may be conducted for a primary with fewer than three candidates.

4. Notwithstanding § 24.2-613 E of the Code of Virginia, all ballot forms for an election conducted by ranked choice voting shall comply with the standards prescribed by the State Board of Elections.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. December 3, 2021.

1VAC20-100-40. Ballot treatment.

As prescribed by § 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia, ballots shall be tabulated in the following manner:

1. Ranked choice overvote.

a. A ballot with a ranked choice overvote shall be counted in the initial round if voter intent can be determined. The ballot shall not be counted in any round in which the ballot has a ranked choice overvote.

b. A ballot with a duplicate ranking shall be counted unless the voter's choice was defeated in a previous round.

2. Skipped ranking.

a. In the event of a ballot with a skipped ranking, the next valid ranking shall be counted.

b. In the event the ballot reaches two consecutive skipped rankings, the ballot will be considered an inactive ballot.

3. Tie breaking.

a. In the event two persons have an equal number of votes for a seat and a higher number than any other person in the last round of an election conducted by ranked choice voting, the candidate or person to be elected shall be determined by lot as prescribed by § 24.2-674 of the Code of Virginia.

b. In the event two or more persons have an equal number of votes for a seat and the fewest number of votes in a round of an election conducted by ranked choice voting, tabulation cannot be continued until one of the persons is defeated. The person to continue as an active candidate shall be determined by lot as prescribed by § 24.2-674 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. December 3, 2021.

1VAC20-100-50. Ranked choice voting tabulation.

A. Instant runoff voting. For any election for one office conducted by ranked choice voting, each ballot shall count as one vote for the highest-ranked active candidate on that ballot. Tabulation shall proceed in rounds with each round proceeding sequentially as follows:

1. If two or fewer active candidates remain, the candidate with the greatest number of votes is elected and tabulation is complete.

2. If more than two active candidates remain, the active candidate with the fewest votes is defeated, votes for the defeated candidate are transferred to each ballot's next-ranked active candidate, and a new round begins with subdivision 1 of this subsection.

B. Single transferable vote. For any election for more than one office conducted by ranked choice voting, each ballot shall count, at its current transfer value, for the highest-ranked active candidate on that ballot. Tabulation shall proceed in rounds. Each round proceeds sequentially, until tabulation is complete, as follows:

1. If the sum of the number of elected persons and the number of active candidates is less than or equal to the number of office seats to be filled, then all active candidates are designated as elected, and tabulation is complete. Otherwise, the tabulation proceeds pursuant to subdivision 2 of this subsection.

2. If any active candidate has a number of votes greater than or equal to the election threshold for the contest, that person shall be designated as elected. Each ballot counting for an elected person is assigned a new transfer value by multiplying the ballot's current transfer value by the surplus fraction for the elected person, truncated after the fourth decimal place. The transfer value of each ballot cast for an elected candidate must be transferred to the highest-ranked active candidate on that ballot. Each person elected under this subdivision is deemed to have a number of votes equal to the election threshold for the contest in all future rounds and a new round begins pursuant to subdivision 1 of this subsection.

If no candidate or person is elected pursuant to subdivision 2 of this subsection, the candidate with the fewest votes is defeated and votes for the defeated candidates shall be transferred at their current transfer value to each ballot's next-ranked active candidate and a new round begins pursuant to subdivision 1 of this subsection.

C. Surplus transfer. If in a round of counting conducted under subsection B of this section, two or more active candidates have a number of surplus votes greater than the election threshold for the contest, the surpluses shall be distributed in rounds in which the largest surplus is distributed first, with any ties resolved by lot as required by § 24.2-674 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. December 3, 2021.

1VAC20-100-60. Unreadable ballots.

In the event the general registrar receives a ballot that cannot be read by the ballot scanner machine, the general registrar or election official shall transpose the voter's intent to a machine readable ballot.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. December 3, 2021.

1VAC20-100-65. Write-Ins.

Pursuant to § 24.2-644 C of the Code of Virginia, at all elections conducted by ranked choice voting except primary elections, any voter may vote for any person other than the listed candidates for the office by writing or hand printing the person's name on the official ballot.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. December 3, 2021.

1VAC20-100-70. Election results.

Results for all rounds must be publicly posted on the Department of Elections website at https://www.elections.virginia.gov.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. December 3, 2021.

1VAC20-100-80. Outreach.

For the purposes of this section, "educational information" means nonpartisan information that in plain language informs the public on the adoption of ranked choice voting for an election, a description of ranked choice voting, an unmarked official sample ranked choice voting ballot, and instructions on how to read and mark the ballot.

1. The Department of Elections shall be required to post educational information about ranked choice voting on its website at https://www.elections.virginia.gov for the public.

2. Any county board of supervisors or city council that adopts to conduct an election by ranked choice voting shall develop and distribute educational information about ranked choice voting no later than 60 days before the specified election.

a. Educational information must be disseminated to the public through circulation in the local newspaper, posted on the locality's website, or mailed to active and inactive voters eligible to vote in the specified election.

b. Educational information must be posted in the office of the general registrar no later than 60 days before the specific election and made available for distribution if requested by the public.

c. Educational information about ranked choice voting shall be posted in each satellite office and polling place operating for the election.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-673.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 9, eff. December 3, 2021.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

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