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Local ranked-choice voting proponents say changing elections process would end in a more balanced result

Candidates would be ranked according to the voter's preference -- 1, 2, or 3, -- until one of the candidates gets a majority of the votes.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There is a movement to change the elections process in Texas that would eliminate the need for runoff races.

That would mean less cost for taxpayers and candidates alike; and residents would only need to vote once.

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.

"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," said Ranked Choice Voting for Texas Chairwoman Harriet Wasserstrum.

The Texas election code does not currently allow ranked-choice voting, but Wasserstrum said three bills that will be introduced next legislative session could change that.

Two big factors are driving the movement, with cost being the first. 

"In 2020, runoff elections that were held for the primaries cost Texas taxpayers $6.4 million," Wasserstrum said.

The current runoff election in Corpus Christi is budgeted to cost taxpayers $180,000, according to city secretary Rebecca Huerta.

The other factor is turnout -- specifically low-voter turnout.

"Historically, turnout for those special elections or for runoff elections like this is very low," said recently reelected at-large city councilman Mike Pusley. "So maybe if we did all in one fell swoop we would get better turn out on our general elections."

That's why the system has the support of the League of Women Voters. 

"We know that voter turnout in those elections, those follow ups, those run offs that the attendance and the participation in those is very low," said the group's president Kathryn Oler.

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