North Dakota took a major step towards securing its elections on Wednesday after the state’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill banning ranked-choice voting (RCV). The move aligns with the Republican National Committee, which disavowed RCV in its January meeting.
In a 74-19 vote, North Dakota’s lower chamber approved HB 1273, which specifies that RCV “may not be used in determining the election or nomination of any candidate to any local, state, or federal elective office.” No North Dakota jurisdiction currently employs ranked-choice voting for elections, according to a local state news outlet.
Under RCV, which critics call ” rigged-choice voting,” 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.
In addition to a ban on RCV, HB 1273 also prohibits localities from using approval voting, in which voters select as many candidates in a given race as they wish and the candidate with the most votes wins. The city of Fargo is the only North Dakota municipality that employs such a system.
“This bill was brought before [the House] to ensure that all citizens of North Dakota have their constitutional and civic rights protected by the state and not… be diluted… by the city or by the local ballot,” said bill sponsor and GOP Rep. Ben Koppelman.
The bill now heads to the state Senate, where Republicans hold a 43-4 majority.
While RCV advocates claim the system would give voters “more options” on Election Day, election results in states using RCV have yielded outcomes that clearly contradict the desires of voters. Last year in Alaska, a reliably Republican state, Democrat Mary Peltola won Alaska’s at-large congressional seat despite “nearly 60 percent of voters casting their ballots for a Republican.” That outcome was due to the state’s new RCV system.
RCV also played a major role in helping Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski fend off a challenge from former President Donald Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka during the 2022 midterms. As The Federalist’s Tristan Justice previously reported, Murkowski’s allies were heavily involved in the push for Alaska to adopt RCV to bolster the incumbent senator’s reelection prospects. The system allowed her to win due to being listed second on Alaska Democrats’ ranked-choice ballots.
In addition to Alaska, Maine is currently the only other state to use RCV for its elections.