Seattle voters poised to pass ranked choice voting initiative as group behind effort claims victory

SEATTLE — Seattle is set to join a growing number of cities to make the switch to ranked-choice voting for its primary elections.

Seattle voters are answering two questions: whether to make any changes to primary voting for some Seattle offices and, regardless of their vote on the first question, which of the two new systems — ranked choice or approval — to enact.

The campaign behind the effort to switch the city’s voting method to ranked choice voting declared victory on Wednesday night as the “yes” votes on the initiative to change Seattle’s primary system passed the 50% mark.

“Seattle voters are ready for ranked choice voting! Thank you to all the volunteers, coalition members, leaders, and voters who came together to improve our democracy,” said Stephanie Houghton, managing director of FairVote Washington. “We’re taking this momentum to the legislature where we can do even more to empower voters with more voice and more choice.”

As of Wednesday night, 154,424 voters have voted to enact either ranked choice or approval voting. 148,901 — a difference of fewer than 6,000 votes — have voted against changing Seattle’s voting method. Ranked-choice voting is ahead of approval voting 75% to 25%.

Voters were asked two questions on their ballots. The first was a simple “yes” or “no” for any changes to Seattle’s primary system. The second asked, regardless of the answer to the first question, which of the new systems to enact, labeled Prop. 1A (approval voting) and Prop. 1B (ranked-choice voting).

Prop. 1A concerns approval voting

In approval voting, voters select all candidates on the ballot who meet their approval. The two candidates with the most votes for each office advance to the general election.

The city would consult with King County to include instructions on the primary ballot such as, “vote for AS MANY as you approve of” for each office, according to the proposition.

Prop. 1B concerns ranked choice voting

In ranked choice voting, primary election voters would rank candidates for each office by preference. The candidate receiving the fewest votes would be eliminated. King County would include instructions on the ballot.

The “yes” or “no” question is regarding whether either of the measures should be enacted into law. A “no” vote means the voter has chosen to leave the primary voting system as is.