Virginia showdown: GOP using ranked-choice voting to pick gubernatorial nominee

Virginia showdown: GOP using ranked-choice voting to pick gubernatorial nominee

Virginia Republicans are set to gather across the Commonwealth on Saturday to choose their nominee for governor in November’s general election, in a race where most of the leading contenders have touted their support for former President Donald Trump.

Unlike their Democratic counterparts, who are holding a traditional gubernatorial primary in June, the Virginia GOP is holding what’s being called a “disassembled convention” at nearly 40 sites across the state. Delegates, who’ve been vetted by local Republican committees, will vote for the party’s gubernatorial nominee, as well as choose their picks for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

How the ‘disassembled convention’ works

The roughly 54,000 delegates will drive in their cars to the statewide locations, receive a ballot, fill it out, and then drop it into a ballot box before driving off. The setup is due to Virginia’s coronavirus restrictions, which prevent an “assembled” convention from being held in person in an arena or other large-capacity facility. Voting takes place from 9 a.m. ET through 4 p.m. ET.

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The state party made its decision in March to hold the “disassembled convention” after sharp differences of opinion on whether to conduct a primary or a convention.

The Republican Party of Virginia points to their large number of delegates as an indicator of GOP enthusiasm. While the number of delegates taking part in the vote is more predicted, it’s still far short of the more than 350,000 people who voted in the state’s 2017 Republican primary for governor.

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Ranked-choice voting

The delegates will receive a ranked-choice ballot.

“Instead of voting for a single candidate through multiple rounds of voting, we will be using a ranked-choice voting method where you will provide a single vote for each candidate in the order from your first choice to your last,” the Virginia GOP explained in a video it tweeted Wednesday.

Who are the candidates? 

There are seven contenders for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. They are businessman and former private equity CEO Glenn Youngkin; businessman and entrepreneur Pete Snyder, who’s a former candidate for lieutenant governor; State Sen. Amanda Chase, who describes herself as “Trump in heels;” State Del. Kirk Cox, a former state House speaker; former think tank leader Peter Doran; retired Army Col. Sergio de la Peña and former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson.

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Polling and pundits consider Youngkin, Snyder, Cox and Chase the top tier of candidates.

Virginia, once a red state that turned purple, has in recent years shaded increasingly blue. No Republican has won a statewide election in a dozen years, and Trump lost the state by 10 points in November to now-President Biden.

The former president declined to make an endorsement in the nomination battle.

When will a winner be declared? 

Not this weekend.

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The counting of the ranked-choice ballots doesn’t begin until Sunday. The hand count will take place at a hotel in downtown Richmond, with a representative from each campaign present. The Virginia GOP say to expect the results to be announced as early as Tuesday and as late as Thursday.

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