While most corporate media coverage of last week’s Republican National Committee (RNC) meeting was devoted to the contested leadership race between Ronna McDaniel and Harmeet Dhillon, the organization’s conference yielded a significant win for election integrity.
During the meeting, RNC members unanimously passed a resolution rejecting the use of ranked-choice voting (RCV) in U.S. elections. In an RCV system, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes in the first round of voting, the last-place finisher is eliminated, and his votes are reallocated to the voter’s second-choice candidate. Such a process continues until one candidate receives a majority of votes.
“Traditional American primary and general elections ensure that voters who support one candidate, not a plurality of candidates, are heard clearly while ranked choice voting schemes open elections to ‘ballot exhaustion’ or the disenfranchisement of voters who choose not to support multiple candidates who do not clearly represent their values,” the RNC resolution reads. The committee voted to reject RCV and “similar schemes that increase election distrust, and voter suppression and disenfranchisement, eliminate the historic political party system, and put elections in the hands of expensive election schemes that cost taxpayers and depend exclusively on confusing technology and unelected bureaucrats to manage it.”
As The Federalist’s Victoria Marshall has reported, the push for RCV is primarily being driven by Democrat activist groups and moderate Republicans as a means of electing establishment candidates over more populist, conservative ones. In Alaska, centrist Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski was behind the state’s adoption of an RCV system in 2020 to avoid accountability from voters during her 2022 reelection bid. Not only did RCV allow Murkowski to defeat Trump-backed challenger Kelly Tshibaka in the general election, it also gave Democrat Mary Peltola the boost she needed to beat Republican Sarah Palin for control of Alaska’s at-large congressional seat.
A Nationwide Push for RCV
While two states (Maine and Alaska) and several municipalities utilize RCV for their respective elections, the push to expand such a system is taking place in state legislatures across the country.
According to a January NBC News report, “lawmakers in 14 states have introduced, filed and prefiled 27 bills that propose various iterations of ranked-choice voting.” In Connecticut, for instance, two Democrat state representatives introduced two RCV bills last month, with one allowing localities to adopt an RCV-style system and the other mandating Connecticut employ RCV for state and federal elections.
In Virginia, efforts to expand RCV are a bipartisan venture, with both Democrats and Republicans introducing a collective four bills on the subject during this year’s legislative session. In the state House, GOP Del. Robert S. Bloxom, Jr. filed a bill that would permit political parties to employ RCV for presidential primary elections. The legislature’s remaining RCV-related bills (HB 1751, SB 1380, and HB 2118) have since been passed by indefinitely or tabled by House and Senate committees.
While speaking with The Federalist, Lynn Taylor, the president and co-founder of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, said the push for RCV among some Virginia Republicans appears to stem from a mistaken belief “that somehow RCV was responsible” for ensuring then-candidate Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the state’s 2021 GOP gubernatorial primary.
“It is not,” Taylor said. “One, Glenn Youngkin would very likely have won the primary anyway, and two, a bad idea is always a bad idea even when it may have once provided the result desired by the political establishment.”
In her remarks, Taylor noted the “corruptive” and “confusing” nature of RCV, describing it as an “insurmountable roadblock to accurate election results.”
“[RCV] is destabilizing to our electoral process, unfair to our voters, creates a lack of confidence in elections, and must be stopped,” she said. “The current public debate about RCV provides both Virginia legislators and elected officials around the country with the opportunity to fully understand why it should be rejected on a national scale.”
Additional states reportedly considering RCV legislation this year include Oklahoma, Montana, and Maryland, among several others.
Lawmakers Must Reject Ranked-Choice Voting
Should they adopt ranked-choice voting, state lawmakers would be subjecting their citizens to a process that disenfranchises both candidates and voters alike. Moreover, the chaotic system would further undermine voters’ already-waning confidence in America’s elections.
State legislatures across the country would be wise to follow the RNC’s lead in rejecting the use of RCV. With its multiple rounds of counting and confusing methodology, the RCV system will almost assuredly end in disaster. (Just ask Alameda County, California).
“Every state should strive to increase voter confidence through procedures that tighten election protections, not turn them into a demolition derby. Everyone should oppose rigged choice voting,” Taylor said.