Rank Choice Voting (RCV): Integrating FPTP and Approval Voting for Enhanced Voter Choice

A pirate skeleton head wielding the sword named Rank Choice Voting to fight for the freedoms of the people.



In our previous blog post, we explored the degrees of freedom offered by different voting systems.


Rank Choice Voting (RCV) emerged as a superior choice, providing greater flexibility in expressing preferences and favorability.


In this post, we will delve into how RCV incorporates elements of our current First Past the Post Voting (FPTP) and Approval Voting, expanding the freedom of expression and choice for voters.


FPTP within the RCV System


One remarkable aspect of RCV is that it includes First Past The Post, our current voting system, within its framework.


How does this integration work?


Consider each RCV vote as if every voter honestly cast their first choice, followed by their second favorite, and so on. If we assume that all voters vote honestly, the first candidate on an RCV ballot should also be the only candidate chosen on a traditional FPTP ballot.


Since RCV allows voters to rank only their first choice if they wish, it means that RCV ballots can be evaluated as normal FPTP ballots by simply selecting the first candidate from each ballot. This way, RCV maintains the integrity and logic of the old system, providing a seamless transition for those familiar with FPTP.


Approval Voting within the RCV System


Another intriguing feature of RCV is its incorporation of Approval Voting principles.


In RCV, voters have the choice to rank or not rank a candidate at all. If a voter chooses to rank a candidate, it signifies their approval or acceptance of that candidate as minimally qualified or ‘okay’ for the job.


On the other hand, if a candidate is not ranked, it implies that the voter deems them unqualified.


In math, this kind of logic is considered Boolean, or a strictly true/false value. This is what makes it distinct from preference oriented voting, which is often a kind of comparative Integer value.


Based on this logic, RCV ballots can also be manually counted as approval votes.


By considering the presence or absence of rankings, we can gauge the amount of approval for each candidate by all of the voters. This approach allows for the identification of the most moderate or acceptable candidate, which often leads to the selection of a candidate who can garner broad support.


Enforced Preference in IRV, and Better RCV


An important note for Instant Runoff Voting (the most common format RCV) is it does not allow you to rank candidates at the same level. Even if you don’t particularly prefer one candidate over another, you must randomly set a preference.


This does mean that in some specific scenarios where a voter honestly only ‘approves’ of candidates equally, their ballot is coerced to falsely display preferences that would not exist in their ‘Honest Ballot’.


‘Better RCV’, as well ‘STAR Voting’ are rough equivalents in terms of their capability to hold information of honest expression in respect to both Preference and Approval data. In most scenarios these ballots allow full expression of a person’s nuanced view, regardless of what it is, and incorporates it into the ballot system intelligently.


Expanding Freedom of Expression


By incorporating elements of FPTP and Approval Voting, RCV extends the freedom of expression provided by both systems. RCV not only allows voters to indicate their approval and acceptance but also enables them to express nuanced preferences through rankings. This expansion of freedom ensures that voters can convey their preferences in a comprehensive and nuanced manner.


An Upgrade to the Current System


It is important to recognize that RCV is not a replacement for our current system; rather, it is an expansion of it. RCV provides voters with additional options and degrees of freedom, empowering them to make more informed and nuanced choices. RCV builds upon the strengths of FPTP and Approval Voting while enhancing the representation and voice of the electorate.




Rank Choice Voting offers a unique approach that integrates elements of both FPTP and Approval Voting. By doing so, RCV expands the freedom of expression and choice available to voters.


The inclusion of FPTP allows for a smooth transition, while incorporating Approval Voting principles provides a broader understanding of voter preferences.


RCV stands as an upgrade to our current system, fostering a more inclusive and responsive democracy by ensuring that voters’ voices are heard and represented more effectively.


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