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Ranked-Choice Voting Is The Monster Under The Bed Of American Elections

Ranked-choice voting ‘is a scheme of the Left to disenfranchise voters and elect more Democrats,’ a new report found.


Democrats are using ranked-choice voting (RCV) to benefit their party and disenfranchise voters in elections across the country, a new report provided to The Federalist found.

Published by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), the new analysis unearths how Democrats use the complexities associated with RCV to diminish confidence in elections among U.S. voters. 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.

While both major political parties have a history of promoting RCV, it’s primarily Democrats who are pushing states and localities to adopt the practice for future elections. As noted by FGA, of the 74 pro-RCV bills introduced in state legislatures this past year, 57 “had only Democrat sponsors.” Meanwhile, “just eight percent of the total bills received bipartisan support,” with Republicans introducing 16 of the 17 bills opposing ranked-choice voting.

“Both the number of bills supportive and opposed to ranked-choice voting saw a large uptick in 2023,” the report reads. “Part of the reason for this increase is legislators have seen the system allow less popular Democrats beat more popular Republicans in federal races in both Maine and Alaska.”

While RCV proponents often claim the system “guarantees that elected officials receive majority support from the electorate,” election outcomes in Alaska and Maine — both of which have adopted RCV — show the exact opposite is true.

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.” As noted by FGA, this race also saw nearly 15,000 votes discarded due to so-called “ballot exhaustion.” The term “ballot exhaustion” is used to describe when voters select only one candidate on their ballot, and those ballots are tossed because their first choice didn’t win a majority in the first round.

Of the nearly 15,000 “exhausted” ballots thrown out in Alaska’s special congressional election, more than 11,000 were from voters who “voted for only one Republican candidate and no one else,” according to the report. RCV also played a major role in helping Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski win reelection during the 2022 midterms, which reportedly saw the “lowest voter turnout percentage on record.”

Election outcomes contradicting the desires of voters were also documented in a 2018 Maine congressional race. In that election, then-incumbent GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin lost to Democrat Jared Golden despite Poliquin winning the most votes in the first round of voting. According to FGA, more than 8,000 ballots were deemed “exhausted” and effectively thrown out.

“These ballots are not just pieces of paper, each is connected to a voter and his or her preference,” the report reads. “By throwing away these ballots, ranked-choice voting is erasing their opinion and leaving their voice unheard in the democratic system.”

But discarded ballots are just one of the many problems associated with RCV. In jurisdictions that employ RCV, delayed election results and errors have become the norm. During New York City’s 2021 Democrat mayoral primary, for example, it took “a week of counting and 11 rounds of tabulations” before city officials determined that “135,000 test ballots had been counted by mistake.” It took nearly a month and eight rounds of counting before a winner was ultimately declared.

Voter confusion about how RCV works has also presented its challenges. After using the system for a June 20 primary election, officials in Arlington, Virginia, opted not to use the practice for its 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.”

FGA concluded its report by calling on lawmakers to follow the lead of states such as Florida and Tennessee by banning the use of RCV in future elections.

“This complicated and confusing form of counting votes is not a non-partisan solution to give voters greater voice,” the report reads. “It is a scheme of the Left to disenfranchise voters and elect more Democrats.”

Other states that have banned RCV in recent years include South DakotaIdaho, and Montana.

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