The Dallas Charter Review Commission is looking at potential amendments that add a ranked-choice voting system into city elections.

The proposal, backed by at least one charter review commissioner, would reduce the number of times voters are asked to head to the polls by eliminating council runoff elections.

The backstory

The commission, made up of 15 council-appointed members, is tasked with reviewing the Dallas City Charter, a process that takes place every 10 years. Members can recommend changes to the charter, which will be submitted to City Council for consideration no later than May 21.

Council members may approve, change or disregard the commission’s recommendations. Any council-approved amendments will be listed as propositions on the Nov. 5, 2024, ballot for Dallas voters.

In a nutshell

The city’s election system requires voters to show up twice to the polls in a five-week period if no candidate secures 50% of votes in their election. This leads to “burdensome” runoff elections, which are both costly and have low voter turnout, Commissioner David de la Fuente said at a Nov. 14 commissioner meeting. The 2019 mayoral runoff election cost the city $1.1 million, and the 2021 runoff election for six council positions cost about $820,000, according to commission documents.

De la Fuente, who was appointed by council member Chad West to represent District 1, proposed the ranked-choice voting system as a solution to that system. A ranked-choice ballot would lead to “instant runoffs” by allowing voters to rank their choices, he said.

State law does not expressly forbid or allow ranked-choice voting, according to commission documents. This year, two bills regarding ranked-choice voting—one to ban it and one to allow it in school board and municipal elections—were filed with the state Legislature, but both failed.

Get involved

Residents can suggest charter amendments to the commission by:The deadline for residents to suggest amendments is Dec. 15. City staff will review the suggestions and add them to a running list for the charter review commission to consider.

Residents may also attend the commission’s meetings, which are open to the public at City Hall and streamed online. The next scheduled meeting is Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m.