How ranked-choice voting works

A person inputs ballots into a machine.
Portland is joining a growing number of cities and counties (including Multnomah County) that will allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference beginning in the 2024 November election. The voter experience will be as easy as ranking favorite ice cream flavors. Computers will do the rest.
On this page

Ranked-choice voting is now used in more than 50 U.S. cities and counties, including New York City and Portland, Maine. Voter participation has increased in communities that made the switch, including Benton County in Oregon.

Multnomah County and Portland voters both decided in November 2022 to transition to ranked-choice voting

Starting in November 2024, Portland voters will have the opportunity to rank candidates in order of preference – one of three major changes underway for the city’s election system and form of government.

Portland joins a growing number of communities abandoning the traditional “plurality” voting system, in which voters choose one candidate and the person with the most votes wins.

Whether voting in a Portland election or a Multnomah County election, voters will see the same ballot

It is important to know that Portland and Multnomah county voters will have the same voter experience. When Multnomah County implements ranked-choice voting for both jurisdictions, whether the contest is tabulated by Instant Run Off or Single Transferable Vote, the ballots will be the same.  The difference is in the computer calculations.

The code adopted by City Council in April allows voters to rank their top 6 candidates, and their ballot will look the same for citywide and district contests.  In the 2024 election, voters will vote for Mayor, Auditor, and councilors for their district three contests. 

Portland will use two ranked-choice voting methods, depending on the type of contest -- city council, mayor, auditor

Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Votes will be tallied in rounds until there is a winner. Ranked-choice voting eliminates the need for a primary election. Going forward, Portland’s leaders will be chosen during a general election in November of even-numbered years.

Single Transferable voting method will be used to elect Portland's city council in November 2024

For the first time ever, Portland's city councilors will represent a geographic district -- three councilors per district.

Instant Runoff voting method will be used to elect Portland mayor and auditor in November 2024

This listening session video was produced by the City Transition team in advance of the consideration of the proposed changes to the election code by Portland City Council.

The implementation process and the partners 

In April 2023, City Council amended Portland City Code Chapter 2.08 to ensure successful implementation of ranked-choice voting in the November 2024 election. The amended Chapter 2.08 reflects careful consideration and collaboration between the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center (RCVRC). RCVRC is a national expert in ranked-choice voting, leading the implementation of ranked-choice voting in jurisdictions across the county.

After City Council adopted the amended Chapter, Multnomah County coordinated with its voting system vendor on updates to its voting system software to add ranked-choice voting capabilities consistent with City Code.

The voting system vendor plans to initiate the federal and state certification process this quarter of 2023 to be ready for the 2024 election.

The City of Portland and Multnomah County are entering into a Memorandum of Understanding to clarify our roles and responsibilities related to educating Portlanders ahead of the November 2024 election.

The City of Portland has begun working with election offices in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties to make the transition to ranked-choice voting. The vast majority of Portland voters live in Multnomah County, while a smaller number live in Clackamas and Washington counties.

The City will partner with voter education groups and community organizations to prepare voters for the change.


November 2022: Voters passed charter reform, including ranked-choice voting

December 2022: February 2023: City and County research and development of needed changes

March 2023: Public input on proposed code changes. 

April 2023: Portland City Council approved code changes

Spring  2023 - Summer 2024: County incorporates changes into voting system.

Summer 2023 - ongoing: Voter education on ranked-choice voting 

November 2024: Voters vote using ranked-choice voting

Stay connected

The City of Portland is committed to transparency and accountability. Stay tuned for more information about the transition.