City Council members are scheduled to vote Monday on whether to place a binding referendum on the November ballot asking Evanstonians whether they want to use ranked choice voting in future municipal elections.

Under ranked choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, voters are not limited to casting a vote for a single candidate for a particular office.

Instead, they can opt to rank the candidates in order of their preference.

If a candidate receives a majority of first choice votes, that candidate wins.

If no candidate gets a majority of first choice votes, the candidate with the smallest number of first choice votes is eliminated, and those voters have their votes reassigned to their second choice candidates.

The elimination process is repeated until one candidate has a majority of votes and wins the election.

The referendum proposal is backed by Mayor Daniel Biss, and the Rules Committee voted unanimously to forward the measure to the City Council.

But Ald. Devon Reid (8th) has since said he’s opposed to ranked choice voting, claiming it leads to more voter confusion.

Voters in Berwyn last month approved an advisory referendum on ranked choice voting by a wide margin. But referendum approval by Evanston voters would apparently make Evanston the first city in Illinois to actually implement the system.

Related: How does ranked choice voting work? (WTTW)

Ranked choice voting has been used for decades in a variety of generally liberal communities — including San Francisco, Berkeley and other cities in California’s San Francisco Bay area

It also was used for the first time last year in New York City, where it is seen as having led to the election of a more middle-of-the road candidate, Eric Adams, as mayor.

But the concept has come in for criticism from some conservative commentators, notably at the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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