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If Texas’ House Speaker Wants Secure And Honest Elections, He Should Help Pass This Bill Banning Ranked-Choice Voting

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The only thing standing between Texas becoming the next state to ban ranked-choice voting (RCV) is House Speaker Dade Phelan.

In March, the Texas Senate successfully passed SB 921, which would require candidates to receive a “majority vote to be elected to a public or political party office or to receive a political party’s nomination” in elections. Preferential voting, which is more commonly known as ranked-choice voting, would also be prohibited. Surprisingly, the measure received bipartisan support, garnering “yea” votes from all 19 Senate Republicans and two Democrats (21-9).

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. This process continues until one candidate receives a majority of votes.

Since its passage in the Senate, SB 921 has been stalled in the House Committee on Elections. When pressed for comment on whether Phelan intends to use his position as speaker to help pass SB 921 and whether he supports RCV, Phelan’s press secretary, Cassi Pollock, declined to comment on the matter, writing, “Our office does not have a comment.”

It’s worth mentioning that Phelan received a substantial amount of support from House Democrats during his bid for speaker in 2021. Despite Republicans holding a majority in the chamber, Phelan selected Democrats to chair 13 of the House’s 34 committees. During this year’s session, Phelan reduced the number of Democrat committee chairs to eight following backlash from Texas conservatives.

“It’s deeply disappointing that the Speaker would continue to stall this bipartisan legislation needed now more than ever to protect free and fair Texas elections,” Ken Cuccinelli, chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative, told The Federalist. “The reality is that the disastrous Ranked-Choice Voting Scheme is an election integrity wrecking ball — making voting more difficult, reducing transparency, and putting voter confidence and certainty at risk when implemented in public elections around the country.”

“As the legislature nears adjournment … we urge the Speaker to allow consideration without delay,” he added.

If SB 921 does not pass the House when Texas’ 2023 legislative session ends on May 29, legislative efforts to ban ranked-choice voting in Texas elections will be stymied for another two years. Unlike most states, which hold annual legislative sessions, the Texas Legislature meets once every two years, in odd-numbered years.

SB 921 sponsor and GOP Sen. Bryan Hughes did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.

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.

Additionally, various localities that have adopted RCV have also experienced confusing and even inaccurate election outcomes. In an Oakland school board race, for instance, “election officials announced — two months after the fact — that they got the count wrong,” resulting in the “rightful winner … suing for his seat.” Some studies have even suggested RCV disenfranchises segments of voters that left-wing election groups often classify as marginalized, such as nonwhite people and non-English speakers.

Among the states to have banned the use of ranked-choice voting in elections are Florida, TennesseeSouth DakotaIdaho, and Montana.


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