By: Jeremy Rose and Alexa Bely

Our current voting system has a serious flaw.  

If you walked into an ice cream shop and they didn’t have your favorite flavor, what would you do — walk out? Or ask for your next favorite flavor? Having a favorite choice doesn’t mean all the other options are unacceptable or all the same to you. Those next-best choices are important!

When there is a contest for mayor in College Park, we vote for a single candidate, but we currently ignore voter preferences among the rest of the candidates. This doesn’t matter if the top candidate receives more than 50% of the votes, as Mayor Fazlul Kabir did in our most recent election. But if there are three or more candidates in a mayoral race and none of them wins a majority, our current voting system can elect a candidate who does not have the broadest appeal. Imagine two similar candidates in a three-person race. If voters prefer those two similar candidates and split the vote, the third candidate could actually receive the most votes and get elected. That’s a problem.

Jurisdictions across the country are instituting ranked choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting), which we think is a better approach. This voting method considers a voter’s top preference and their ranked choices across all candidates. All first choices are tallied, and if a candidate receives more than half of the first choices, that candidate wins, just like we’re used to. But if there is no majority winner after first choices are counted, this system eliminates the candidate with the fewest votes, and voters who picked that candidate as their top choice will have their next choice counted instead. This process continues until there’s a majority winner. 

This approach provides important advantages. Ranked choice voting increases overall voter satisfaction and decreases polarization among candidates. It can also draw a larger and more diverse pool of candidates.

College Park’s mayor and council had an initial discussion about ranked choice voting last fall. Given that our next mayoral election is just around the corner, it should proceed under our current system. But College Park should consider adopting ranked choice voting for the 2025 city election — for the benefit of both voters and candidates. If you’d like to learn more or are interested in promoting this option in College Park, please email the city’s chapter of Ranked Choice Voting Maryland at

Jeremy Rose works at FairVote and lives in North College Park. Alexa Bely is a teacher/researcher at the University of Maryland and lives in Calvert Hills. They can be reached at