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Could ranked-choice voting come to Nueces County?

TAMU-K political science professor Travis Braidwood said a ranked-choice voting system allows voters to rank candidates by preference on ballots.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Ranked choice voting bills will soon be voted on by the legislature.

Such a voting method would eliminate the need for expensive runoff elections, and it could have saved the city nearly $200,000 last year.

Texas A&M University-Kingsville political science professor Travis Braidwood said such a system could change the voting landscape.

"Take like Ross Perot, 1992, a Texan, ran against Bill Clinton and H.W. Bush. Bush won and a lot of people think that if it wasn't for Ross Perot running, H.W. Bush would have won that election because Ross Perot siphoned off some of those," he said. "And so that's one of the big arguments too is that you don't have these so called spoiler candidates."  

Braidwood said a ranked-choice voting system allows voters to rank candidates by preference on their ballots.

If a voter's preferred candidate loses, their vote would go to their second choice, or third, until only one candidate gets a majority of votes.

Harriet Wasserstrum of Ranked Choice Voting for Texas says that another important factor to consider is cost.

"Since you don't have to hold a second runoff election some months later, then the Texas taxpayer wind up not having to pay for runoff elections," she said.

Corpus Christi City Secretary Rebecca Huerta said as much as $180,000 is the cost of every runoff election for the city. However, According to the Director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin James Henson, the time may not be right for such a change.

"There's a lot of resistance among the two established parties because at the starting point it really fundamentally disrupts the settled system of primary and general elections that we have in the state right now," he said.

Nueces County Republican party chair Barbie Baker agreed, saying that such a system would "take the whole purpose of running on a political platform out of the election."

But Henson said it takes time for an idea like this to gain traction. So if not approved we still might see such a system somewhere down the road.

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