Americans want honest, straightforward and fair elections that they can trust. Regardless of whether candidates win or lose, voters deserve far better than the incompetence, mismanagement and multi-week delays in counting votes that we’re seeing in so many states today. So, at a time when trust in elections is at an all-time low, why are some establishment Republicans teaming up with Democrats to push a complex, confusing and painfully slow method of voting in America?
Simply stated, supporters of ranked-choice voting (RCV) believe it will produce a new era of pastel campaigns and a greater public acceptance of final results that yield crops of spineless candidates who won’t challenge the failed status quo. But for the struggling forgotten men and women who are looking for new leaders and innovative solutions, RCV is just one more way for elitists to further tilt the system in their favor.
As conservative economist Thomas Sowell observed, “There are no solutions, there are only trade-offs.” And RCV’s trade-offs make clear that our traditional way of voting is far superior — just like the Founding Fathers designed it.
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When Maine Congressman Bruce Poliquin lost his election in 2018 due to RCV he stated, “It is now officially clear I won the constitutional ‘one-person, one-vote’ first choice election on Election Day that has been used in Maine for more than one hundred years.” Poliquin’s legitimate frustration with RCV will be echoed by countless others if the practice is expanded into more states.
The obvious truth is that RCV is complicated, difficult to understand, and relies on a counting process shrouded in mystery. Just look at the recent news from Alaska. On Election Day, more Alaska voters opted for a Republican to represent them in the U.S. House.
Then two weeks later — following Alaska’s RCV protocols — a liberal Democrat was re-elected because the conservative vote was split between two candidates. How could a state that Donald Trump carried by 10 points send a left-wing Democrat to Congress? Along with ignoring the will of the people, RCV’s opaque and multifaceted counting process paves the way for more distrust in the system.
Look no further than Alaska’s Senate race, where incumbent RINO Lisa Murkowski was re-elected using RCV with the support of liberals who voted for her instead of backing a viable Democrat. Now, instead of having another conservative voice in the Senate, Alaskans get six more years of Murkowski, who will spend her term pandering to the Democrats who propelled her to victory.
While it sounds like a viral pathogen cooked up in a lab, RCV may be worse. It’s a type of voting that essentially prohibits American voters from making one choice and instead requires or encourages them to rank multiple candidates for the same office in order of preference.
After the ballots in a RCV election have been counted, if a candidate has received a majority of votes, then he or she wins. However, if no one gets a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest first-choice ballots is removed, and that candidate’s ballots are counted for their second-choice candidates.
This process is then repeated — with more opportunities for mistakes or worse — until eventually a candidate receives a majority of the votes.
No wonder leaders on both sides of the political spectrum have raised concerns about RCV. According to Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, “People are starting to look nationally and say RCV ‘could be the answer.’ I think they need to be cautious about that. It’s very confusing.”
He continued, “Ninety-five percent of the people talking to me about our new ranked-choice voting system were saying how utterly confusing it was.” Senior NAACP official Hazel Dukes also castigated RCV, “It is voter suppression … I hope that the courts see that ranked choice voting is not right for democracy.”
Despite these concerns, 11 states already use RCV in some capacity for local elections and its spreading. The critical battleground state of Georgia may consider a RCV system in the future.
Hawaii and Nevada have moved RCV measures for use in future elections. In Utah, 23 cities and towns opted into a pilot program to use RCV for local elections.
Thankfully, under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida has taken a stand in defense of the Constitution and prohibited RCV. More states should follow suit.
Even in the best of circumstances, RCV runs the risk of disenfranchising voters. If a voter’s chosen candidates have been eliminated in the RCV process, these voters won’t have any say in the final vote. By its very design, RCV slows down the process of counting the votes and introduces an array of ambiguities into what should be a simple process of determining a clear winner.
RCV requires voters to place absolute trust in the vote-counters that they tabulate accurately everything in an uncertain process. And as we’ve seen yet again from paper shortages in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania to machine malfunctions in Maricopa County, Arizona, things go awry even in the best circumstances.
So let’s defend the integrity of our elections, not undermine them through dangerous so-called reforms like RCV.
David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United, and he served as deputy campaign manager for Donald J. Trump for President in 2016. @David_Bossie @Citizens_United