Connecticut’s Democratic governor creates working group to develop ranked-choice voting legislation

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s Democratic governor announced Thursday the formation of a new working group to explore options and come up with a legislative proposal allowing ranked-choice voting in certain elections in the state.

Gov. Ned Lamont, who made a campaign promise to propose ranked-choice voting legislation, said he wants the bipartisan group to develop recommendations by the end of 2024 that would allow municipalities and political parties to use ranked-choice voting in caucuses, conventions, primaries, and certain municipal elections.

Current law in Connecticut does not allow ranked-choice voting, which comes in different forms but essentially allows voters to rank candidates by preference on their ballots rather than voting for just one person.

“It has been used with success in other states throughout the U.S. for many years, and there is a growing consensus in Connecticut that enacting this system here will benefit our voters,” Lamont said in a written statement.

Two states use ranked voting — Maine for state primaries and for federal elections, and Alaska for state and federal general election contests. Many U.S. cities, including New York, San Francisco and Minneapolis, use ranked voting, while Portland, Oregon, plans to begin using it this fall.

It was used for the first time in 2022 in Alaska, where there are also open primaries. Proponents there contend the system appeals to voters who are frustrated by political polarization and feel there’s no real choice at the ballot box. Opponents are seeking to repeal it.

A bill was proposed in 2023 in Connecticut that would have allowed cities and towns to use ranked-choice voting in municipal elections for single-winner offices and for political parties in presidential primaries. However, it did not make it out of committee.

Lamont’s working group, chaired by Democratic Sen. Cathy Osten and Republican Sen. Tony Hwang, is tentatively scheduled to meet for the first time on June 14. The new General Assembly session begins Jan. 8, 2025.