Residents of Midway, a small, central Kentucky town with a population of about 1,700, recently picked a new city flag. Last fall, the Midway Flag Committee invited residents to vote for their preferred flag design from among 169(!) initial submissions. Midwegians (what residents of Midway sometimes call themselves) received this ballot in the mail:

As can be seen on the postcard ballot, Midwegians were asked to indicate their preference from among these four flag design options—indicating their top preference with a “1,” followed by their second with a “2,” third with a “3,” and fourth preferences with a “4” (after all, each of the final flag designs was really cool!). The votes were then tallied using a “ranked-choice voting” method, with the winning flag (the third on the ballot above) selected with 67% of the vote, a broad Midwegian consensus!

Some Kentucky lawmakers have expressed support for RCV lately—just this year Republican Senator Stephen Meredith introduced SB61 that would have established RCV for use with some state-wide elections in Kentucky. So far, though, the idea hasn’t gained much traction with other lawmakers. Many worry that RCV is too complicated or confusing for most voters to understand.

A few months ago, we at Rank the Vote Kentucky partnered up with the Midway Flag Committee to send a survey to these same Midway residents who voted in their city’s flag election. We suspected that they probably had a positive experience using RCV to pick their new city flag, but we wanted to know for sure. To that end, we designed a short online survey and sent invitations to all 255 voters with an offer to be entered into a gift card drawing upon completing the survey. In all, 36 Midway voters participated in the survey (half of respondents were GenX or older; about half identified as Democrats, generally reflecting Midway’s typical voting patterns). While 36 survey responses isn’t quite enough to make precise statistical estimates, it represents nearly 15% of all Midway flag voters and is sufficient to draw some more general statistical conclusions with a degree of confidence:

First, Midwegians liked choosing their new flag with RCV—a lot! Nearly everyone (93%) said that it was a simple process to complete their ranked-choice ballot and every single respondent said that it was easy to understand.

Second, a strong majority (84%) said that they were glad that they were able to use ranked-choice voting to pick their city’s flag instead voting for only one option.

Third, a majority (72%) said that it’s important that winners of elections receive a majority of the vote. That said, less than half (39%) said that they support using RCV in Kentucky political elections and 50% said they were not sure whether RCV would give an unfair advantage to one political party or another. (At the same time, 42% said that they thought it wouldn’t give an unfair advantage to one party or the other.)

What might we make of all of this?

Many say that RCV is simply too confusing and intimidating for voters but our results show that Kentuckians who have the opportunity to try RCV say that it’s simple to use, easy to understand, and they like using it when given the chance. However, there does appear to be some hesitancy among these same Kentuckians when it comes to implementing RCV for political election. These results suggest, though, that this is likely more due to uncertainty about how the politics will play out if RCV is implemented rather than opposition to RCV in principle.

It’s important to note that voters in cities that have RCV say for political elections say that they like it  and those who are initially reluctant to support RCV tend to be enthusiastic after giving it a try. There’s every reason to think that Kentuckians would also love RCV if given the chance to try it out, just like residents of Midway did when choosing their new city flag.



A special shout out to Midwegian Ira Langdon and the Midway Flag Committee for their collaboration on this project and to Rank the Vote Kentucky’s Mathew Ruberg for doing a lot of the heavy lifting on fielding the surveys for this project.

Click here[2023 MIDWAY FLAG ELECTIONEXPERIENCE SURVEY] to see the full survey script.

Benjamin Knoll


Benjamin Knoll lives in Danville, Kentucky and is a huge fan of ranked-choice voting. He has a Ph.D. in political science and has conducted research on public opinion surveys and voter behavior, including directing the Boyle County Exit Poll from 2011-201