Following the lead of other Republican-led states, an Ohio legislator introduced legislation on Thursday that would prohibit the use of ranked-choice voting for state and federal elections.
Under RCV, often dubbed “rigged-choice voting” by its critics, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent 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.
Introduced by GOP Sen. Theresa Gavarone, SB 137 stipulates that “no election shall be conducted in this state using ranked choice voting or instant runoff voting.” While the measure allows localities to adopt RCV for their respective municipal elections, it includes an additional provision making said localities “ineligible to receive any local government fund distributions from the state.”
“Ranked choice voting, in its most basic form, distorts election outcomes. If implemented in Ohio, it would undo more than two centuries of voters having the ability to cast their vote with one vote and one voice, and alter our elections to look similar to the way it’s done in New York City and San Francisco,” Gavarone said in a statement.
Gavarone was notably one of the main players behind the introduction of the DATA Act, which was recently signed into law as part of the state’s biennial budget. That measure is aimed at bringing transparency to Ohio’s voter data and elections.
Various U.S. municipalities that have adopted ranked-choice voting have 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.” After using RCV for a June 20 primary election, officials in Arlington, Virginia recently opted not to use the practice for the city’s upcoming fall elections, “pointing to confusion about the process” among voters and “concerns about whether outreach efforts were translating to diverse support for the new system.”
Alaska — one of only two states to implement ranked-choice voting so far — has also had its fair share of problems, such as election outcomes that contradict the will of voters. Last year, Democrat Mary Peltola won the state’s at-large congressional seat 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 win reelection during the 2022 midterms.
Among the states to have banned the use of ranked-choice voting in elections are Florida, Tennessee, South Dakota, Idaho, and Montana. Other states, such as Oregon, are looking to adopt the use of RCV for their elections.