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Idaho Takes An Axe To Ranked-Choice Voting In Elections, And North Dakota And Arizona Could Follow Suit


Idaho scored a major win for election integrity last month by banning the use of ranked-choice voting (RCV) in elections, with North Dakota and Arizona potentially following suit.

On March 24, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed HB 179, which prohibits county election offices from using “ranked choice voting or instant runoff voting to conduct an election or nomination of any candidate in this state for any local government, statewide, or federal elective office.” The bill passed the Idaho House of Representatives (56-12) and Senate (28-7) earlier last month.

Under RCV, which critics often refer to as “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 Idaho, South Dakota banned the use of ranked-choice voting last month. Florida and Tennessee also passed similar bans last year.

Meanwhile, North Dakota Republicans put their state one step closer to banning the confusing system following the state Senate’s passage (33-13) of HB 1273 on Friday. The measure had previously cleared the House of Representatives (74-19) earlier this month and will soon head to Republican Gov. Doug Burgum’s desk for approval. When pressed on whether Burgum intends to sign the bill, Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki declined to answer, saying “We have not received HB 1273 from the Legislature yet, and the governor generally does not comment on legislation before it reaches his desk.”

In addition to Idaho and North Dakota, Arizona Republicans are also working to outlaw the use of ranked-choice voting in their state’s elections. The legislature is attempting to pass a ban on ranked-choice voting in the form of HB 2552, which passed the House last month and is now being considered by the Senate.

While Maine and Alaska are the only two states to employ RCV so far, their respective elections since implementing the system 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 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.

Other states considering bans on ranked-choice voting include Alaska, Texas, and Montana.

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