Faced with a complex combination of ballot measures, Seattle voters approved a new “ranked choice” voting system by a very slim margin.
In August, a campaign to create an “approval voting” system turned in enough valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. At that point, the Seattle City Council also placed ranked choice voting on the ballot. Both of the proposed voting systems give voters the option to vote for multiple candidates in a primary. Voters must rank the candidates they vote for in a ranked-choice system, and the approval system allows voters to vote for multiple candidates without ranking them in order of preference.
Seattle voters were confronted with two questions. First, asking if they wanted to change the voting system, and the second question was if they preferred a ranked choice or approval voting system. The “yes” vote was barely above 50% for the “change” question and could still face a recount. However, on the second question, voters chose ranked-choice voting by about a 3 to 1 margin.
Assuming that the “yes” margin holds up, Seattle would implement the new voting system in time for the 2027 primary election. Seattle would join about 50 cities and counties — and the states of Maine and Alaska – in adopting ranked-choice voting.