The upcoming November election will be the first time the City of Boulder will conduct Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to elect its Mayor.
Changes to City of Boulder Elections
What is Ranked Choice Voting?
Ranked Choice Voting is a voting method that allows voters to rank election contest candidates in order of preference when there are three or more candidates.
Why Ranked Choice Voting for the City of Boulder Mayor?
In 2020, the committee “Our Mayor, Our Choice” successfully put forth a Charter Amendment Petition to change the way the City of Boulder elects its Mayor through Ranked Choice Voting. Historically, the Mayor has been elected through nominations and votes cast among City Council. However, in the 2020 General Election over 78% of voters in the City of Boulder voted in favor of having registered voters decide their Mayor through Ranked Choice Voting.
The first election of the Mayor through Ranked Choice Voting is set to take place November 7th, 2023.
How to Correctly Mark a Ranked Choice Voting Contest
How do I mark my ballot?
With Ranked Choice Voting, voters mark their ballots in order of preference – 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on.
- Select a first-choice candidate by completely filling in the oval next to the candidate's name in the FIRST-CHOICE column.
- If you have a second-choice candidate, completely fill in the oval next to that candidate’s name in the SECOND-CHOICE column.
- If you have a third-choice candidate, completely fill in the oval next to that candidate’s name in the THIRD-CHOICE column.
- You can continue to rank candidates until you run out of allowable rankings or run out of candidates.
- Mark only one choice per column.
- Mark only one choice per candidate.
- You may rank as many candidates as are allowed for the contest.
- You may rank as few candidates as you would like.
- However, if you skip a choice, only your first valid choice prior to the skipped choice will be tabulated.
Example 1: Correctly marked
This is a correctly marked ballot contest on which the voter has indicated a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice.
Example 2: Incorrectly marked
This ballot contest is incorrectly marked. The voter has correctly marked a first choice but marked multiple 2nd choice candidates.
How this voter’s ballot will be counted:
- The first choice will be counted.
- The second choice vote will not be counted – voter’s intent cannot be determined because this column has been overvoted.
Example 3: Incorrectly marked
This ballot contest is incorrectly marked. The voter has marked multiple choices for the same candidate.
How this voter’s ballot will be counted:
- The highest ranking is counted, in this case the first choice will be counted
If the first-choice candidate is eliminated, the second and third choices cannot be considered, as they are duplicate choices for the same candidate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Candidates for the mayoral contest file with the City of Boulder. For filing information, see the Voting and Election Information page. Boulder County will post ballot content in mid-September after it has been certified and our ballot layout is complete. Before this time please see the City of Boulder’s website for candidate information.
If you do not have 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. preferences for this contest, you do not need to fill in those columns. You only need to fill in the number of columns for candidates for whom you prefer and in the order you prefer them. Additionally, know that ranking other candidates does not harm your 1st choice.
No. Ranking a candidate more than once does not benefit the candidate. If a voter ranks one candidate as the voter’s first, second, third, etc. choice, it is the same as if the voter leaves the second, third, etc. choice blank. In other words, if the candidate is eliminated that candidate does not receive your 2nd, 3rd, etc. choice votes.
No. If a voter gives more than one candidate the same ranking, the vote cannot be counted. Only one candidate can represent the voter’s first, second, third, fourth, or fifth choice.
You can rank as many candidates as described in the contest instructions and as there are ranks displayed. For example, if there are 10 candidates listed and 10 columns with numbered choices, you may rank up to 10 candidates with your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. rankings.
If time permits, request a replacement ballot.
If you do not have time to receive a new ballot, follow your voting instructions to cross off the mistake and fill in the correct oval. Full instructions can be found here. Anytime there is an overvote (two or more ovals filled in) a bipartisan team of election judges reviews the vote and uses a Secretary of State voter intent guide to interpret the vote.
As dictated under statute, if two or more candidates tie for the lowest number of votes, the eliminated candidate must be chosen by lot (drawing).
No. The City of Boulder does not have a process to consider write-in candidate for mayor.
There must be at least three candidates to use Ranked Choice Voting. If there are only two candidates, the winner shall be whoever receives over 50% of the vote.
During the first round of tabulation, the voting system must tabulate the first-choice ranks on each ballot. A candidate who receives over 50% of the first-choice ranks for a contest across all ballots tabulated is the winning candidate, and the voting system must stop tabulating any further rounds.
If no candidate receives over 50% of the first-choice ranks for a contest across all ballots tabulated, the voting system must continue to the next round of tabulation. At the beginning of the next round of tabulation, the candidate with the fewest first-choice ranks in the prior round is eliminated, and the eliminated candidate’s votes are transferred to each ballot’s next-ranked continuing candidate and tabulated.
It typically takes between 1-3 days following an election to process all the mail ballots that are turned in / received by the 7 p.m. Election Day deadline. However, military and overseas mail ballots have until 8 days after the election to be legally received and counted. Additionally, voters who need to fix an issue with their signature on their mail ballot envelope (missing signature, signature discrepancy, etc.) also have until 8 days after the election to resolve the issue to have their ballot counted (voters are contacted). Thus, during this time frame after Election Day ballots are still being processed and unofficial results are subject to change.