The advantages of Ranked Choice Voting over the traditional runoff procedure become most evident in
Georgia’s non-partisan municipal elections typically held in the odd-numbered years. This is because
these races tend to have longer lists of candidates than our state general election races, which almost
always narrow the choice down to two, and often only one.
So it’s worth a look at our recent round of City elections in Georgia to see what we might learn.
Looking at municipalities in the Atlanta Metro area, here are a few where no candidate received a
majority, and thus will require a runoff on November 30th.
Alpharetta: City Council posts 2 and 3
Atlanta: Mayor, City Council President, six City Council posts, two School Board posts
Duluth: City Council Post 4
Marietta: City Council Ward 5
Milton: City Council D1 P1
Roswell: City Council Post 5
South Fulton: Mayor and Council D4
Stonecrest: City Council Post 1
Stone Mountain: City Council Posts 4 and 6
Sugar Hill: City Council Post 5
Tucker: City Council D2 P1
These cities should reflect on what it could mean to them to avoid the whole process: creating runoff
ballots, trotting out the equipment once more, staffing the polling locations, and enduring what so often
becomes a down and dirty four- week campaign between the two top finishers. In most cases the
number of people voting in the runoff drops dramatically, leaving the decision of who gets elected to a
The City of Atlanta only had a dismal 25% of registered voters come to the polls on November 3 rd (Cobb
County’s turnout was even worse, under ten percent.) Given the falloff we normally see in runoffs, we
are heading toward a situation where a tiny fraction of Atlanta citizens determines who will be the next
Mayor, and who will fill six of the fifteen seats on Council. Instead of letting the supporters of Kasim
Reed, Sharon Gay, Antonio Brown and the other candidates express their preferences beyond their first
choice, voters now must decide between only two of the original field of thirteen. Given the previous
behavior of Moore and Dickens, one can hope that these runoff campaigns will focus on policy, but
don’t be surprised if we don’t see the same pattern of negative ads that so often accompany these last
man (or woman) standing battles.
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