|Abstract:||This paper argues that rather than just select the best candidate, EVAL imposes a harmonic rank-ordering on the full candidate set. Language users have access to this enriched information, and it shapes their performance. This paper applies this idea to variation. The claim is that language users can access the full candidate set via the rank-ordering imposed by EVAL. In variation, more than one candidate is well-formed enough to count as grammatical. Consequently, language users will access more than just the best candidate from the rank-ordering. However, the accessibility of a candidate depends on its position on the rank-ordering. The higher position a candidate occupies, the more likely it is to be selected. In a variable process, variants that appear higher on the rank-ordering (that are more well-formed), will therefore also be the more frequent variants. This model is applied to variation in the phonology of Faialense Portuguese and Ilokano.