The ranked-choice voting fad is finally ending

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Progressive Democrats and some moderate Republicans are advocating for a major change to Rhode Island’s Constitutional election provision, which currently provides for the candidate who receives a simple plurality of all votes cast to be declared the winner state or local elections … even if that plurality does not surpass the 50% threshold.

Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) is the most-often discussed alternative, with multiple pieces of legislation submitted in recent years. But this complex voting process has raised significant red flags in other states where it has been tried, confusing and disenfranchising voters, with many ballots actually being discarded.

“There is no need to complicate our state’s voting process and raise even further questions about the integrity of our elections,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. “A simple runoff election, as we have seen in Georgia in recent years, is the only way to ensure that a majority of the true voices of voting citizens are heard and fairly counted.”

The column below was written by Trent England and Jason Snead

Once hailed as a promising alternative to America’s “one person, one vote” approach, ranked-choice voting has proven to be a deceptive scheme. Countless cities and counties that misguidedly implemented it are dumping it like a bad stock — either of their own accord or because of citizen-led petitions.

Ranked-choice voting is a confusing and convoluted method of voting that tries to force voters to rank multiple candidates for a single office. If one candidate secures a majority in the first round, that candidate wins. Otherwise, lower-ranked candidates’ votes are redistributed or thrown out until a winner emerges.

This system has resulted in thousands of discarded ballots, widespread voting errors, delayed election results, longer lines at polling places, suspect recounts and, consequently, diminished voter confidence.

We know that public trust in elections matters. This is why six states — Florida, Tennessee, South Dakota, Idaho, Kentucky and Montana — have banned ranked-choice voting over the last two years. Ranked-choice is approved at the statewide level only in Maine and Alaska. In both states, ranked-choice measures passed only after intense pressure and bankrolling from out-of-state left-wing special interest groups.

statewide repeal effort of ranked-choice is underway in Alaska . It took only one statewide ranked-choice election for citizens to begin circulating petitions to get rid of the measure.

Alaskans’ reasons for rejecting ranked choice voting are numerous. To start, 11 percent of the ballots in Alaska in 2022 were “spoiled” due to voter confusion under ranked-choice — more than three times the normal rate. During the state’s special at-large congressional election, nearly 15,000 Alaskans had their ballots thrown out. This included more than 11,000 tossed because voters selected only one candidate without ranking any others. When that candidate was eliminated, their votes were eliminated as well.

To avoid this, ranked-choice tries to force voters to “vote against their conscience, or even vote for their opponent, to ensure that their ballot does not end up in a landfill.” To put it another way, ranked-choice manufactures phony majorities by coercing voters into ranking candidates they do not actually support.

Beyond confusion, voters can become frustrated and disillusioned when candidates with fewer first-choice votes prevail. In the Alaska special election, although Republican candidates initially garnered 60 percent of the vote , the Democrat emerged as the winner.

Moreover, ranked-choice elections risk extraordinary delays because ranked-choice voting often guarantees multiple rounds of counting. It took over two weeks  to determine the outcome of the Alaskan special election using ranked-choice voting, for example.

This confusion and havoc created by ranked-choice is not confined to Alaska. In Alameda, Calif. , election researchers discovered a programming glitch that caused misallocation of ranked-choice votes. The ranked-choice system was so complex that none of the election officials or candidates even noticed.

After a recount, officials found that they had in fact certified the wrong winner of an Oakland school board race. That candidate actually took office before the error was caught, and the rightful winner did not replace him until four months later.

Such incidents occur far too often in ranked-choice elections. Because of widespread confusion and dissatisfaction, the rejection of ranked-choice has become bipartisan. Washington D.C.’s own Democratic Party sued to stop a proposed ranked-choice ballot initiative last year. This year,  Kentucky lawmakers overrode Governor Andy Beshear’s veto in order to protect the state from this dangerous voting scheme.  Bills to ban ranked-choice have passed at least one chamber in five state legislatures , and legislation is currently working its way through legislative committees in nine other states.

Meanwhile, Alaska’s repeal campaign has secured enough signatures  for a vote on the November ballot. If it passes, Alaska will join the likes of Aspen, Colo., and dozens of other jurisdictions that have tried ranked-choice only to regret it and repeal it later .

Election integrity is non-negotiable. It is the foundation of the democratic process and essential to the legitimacy of government. Ranked-choice voting undermines all of this. Fortunately, cities, counties, and states nationwide are catching on.

As we approach November 2024, elected officials need to carry the momentum of ranked-choice bans and finally rid America of this broken voting system.

Trent England and Jason Snead are co-chairs of the Stop Ranked-Choice Voting Coalition

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