Low election turnout has some eying ranked choice voting in Illinois for 2028

State Board of Elections

The Illinois State Board of Elections office in Springfield. | BlueRoomStream

Voter turnout in last month’s presidential primary election was the lowest in 52 years. Some argue changing to ranked choice voting could increase participation. Others worry it will confuse voters.  

The Illinois State Board of Elections released their official canvas of the 2024 presidential primary and found 19% voter turnout. That’s the lowest voter turnout since 1972. 

The Illinois Ranked-Choice Voting and Election Systems Task Force has been meeting with an eye on bringing about ranked choice voting for the 2028 presidential primary. During their meeting Monday, Barb Laimins said while the League of Women Voters don’t have a position on ranked choice voting, they do support things to encourage more participation. 

“If RCV were to be implemented in Illinois, it would also accomplish, in addition, eliminate election by minority, improve democracy by voter participation and engagement,” Laimins said. 

Ranked choice voting is where voters select several candidates, but rank them on most preferred versus least. Those rankings play in the final tally of the vote.

Others on the task force like, Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman, worried RCV would confuse voters looking for unofficial election outcomes. 

“And when you’re doing counts everyday, changing the results, changing which candidates are in, which ones are out, that just adds way too much confusion,” he said. 

At a previous task force meeting, the group of appointed members said they were going to be drafting a final report for review and approval. That was not accomplished at Monday’s meeting. 

At Friday’s meeting, there were more questions about definitions, and whether the goal would be to only implement ranked choice voting for the 2028 presidential primary candidates, or also for the presidential electors. Co-chair of the task force state, Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, said they clearly have a lot more they have to discuss in future meetings. 

“We’re not at the point yet of compiling that report draft. We’re compiling all the information that we want included,” she told the members. “So if there’s something you find that was not included, if you want to let me know that would be helpful, and we’ll make sure that we do include that because we have so much documentation throughout, we want to have one place where it is all located.” 

An agenda for a recent task force meeting said the group is looking to deliver a final report to the Illinois General Assembly by June 30, 2025.  

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