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South Dakota Bans Ranked-Choice Voting In Elections, And Idaho Could Be Next


South Dakota scored a major win for election integrity on Tuesday by becoming the first state in 2023 to ban ranked-choice voting (RCV) in elections, with Idaho potentially following suit.

On Tuesday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed SB 55, which stipulates that the state’s board of elections “may not authorize” and political subdivisions “may not adopt or enforce” in any manner “a rule, resolution, charter provision, or ordinance establishing” a ranked-choice voting system. The bill received overwhelming support in the state’s House of Representatives (63-5) and Senate (31-4).

“South Dakota’s election laws are built with integrity. We have one of the best election systems in the nation,” Noem said in a statement. With laws such as SB 55, “we will further strengthen our fantastic system and provide accountability for the future.”

In addition to South Dakota, Florida and Tennessee banned the use of RCV in state elections last year. On RCV ballots, voters rank their options rather than choosing only one. RCV tends to boost leftist candidates and often leads to confusing and even inaccurate election outcomes, as The Federalist has reported.

Meanwhile, Idaho Republicans put their state one step closer to banning the confusing system following the state Senate’s passage (28-7) of HB 179 on Tuesday. The measure had previously cleared the House of Representatives (56-12-2) earlier this month and will soon head to Republican Gov. Brad Little’s desk for approval. Little did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment on whether he intends to sign the bill.

Critics often call RCV “rigged-choice voting.” 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. This process continues until one candidate receives a majority of votes.

While Maine and Alaska are the only two states to employ such a system so far, the results from their respective elections since implementing RCV have produced outcomes that clearly contradict the desires of voters. In Maine, then-incumbent GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin lost to Democrat Jared Golden during the 2018 midterms, despite Poliquin winning the most votes in the first round of voting. That outcome was due to the state’s ranked-choice voting system.

Similarly, in Alaska, Democrat Mary Peltola won the state’s at-large congressional seat last year even though “nearly 60 percent of voters cast[] their ballots for a Republican.” 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. The system allowed her to win due to being listed second on Alaska Democrats’ ranked-choice ballots.

In addition to Idaho, other states considering banning ranked-choice voting include Alaska, North Dakota, Texas, Arizona, Maine, and Montana.

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