Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and state Senate Republicans introduced a measure on Tuesday to prohibit the use of ranked-choice voting (RCV) in 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.
SB 355 stipulates that RCV “shall not be used in determining the election or nomination of any candidate to any local, state, or federal elective office.” This law would not, however, apply to “electors who are entitled to vote absentee ballot under the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act,” which was amended in 2021 to allow for overseas voters to use an RCV, or “instant runoff,” ballot for statewide and presidential races.
As the Atlanta Civic Circle reported, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said the system was adopted for UOCAVA “as a way to avoid problems with overseas mailing, which can be unreliable in getting ballots in time for elections.”
“Ranked-choice voting is designed to cause confusion and fatigue among voters,” Jones said in a statement. “This type of voting system, pushed by dark money groups, could cause a drastic increase in the number of ballots being thrown out, disenfranchising Georgia voters. Georgians deserve to have the utmost faith in their elections, and those pushing Ranked-choice voting are only hindering that faith.”
Republican Sen. Randy Robertson was also a primary sponsor of the bill, according to a press release issued by Jones’ office.
Contrary to the claims of RCV supporters, jurisdictions that have adopted ranked-choice voting have experienced confusing and even inaccurate election outcomes. In a 2022 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.” Meanwhile, a Utah town that used an RCV pilot program for its 2021 municipal elections experienced high rates of ballots being discarded or spoiled.
In the Genola City Council Race 1, for example, “58% of ballots were either discarded out of hand or otherwise spoiled,” while the Genola City Council Race 2 “had a discarded or spoiled rate of over 74%.”
Meanwhile, Alaska and Maine — both of which have adopted RCV — have had their fair share of problems, such as election outcomes that contradict the will of voters. In 2022, for example, Democrat Mary Peltola won Alaska’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. A similar scenario also played out in a 2018 Maine congressional race, in which then-incumbent GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin lost to Democrat Jared Golden despite Poliquin winning the most votes in the first round of voting.
An October report published by the Foundation for Government Accountability found that ranked-choice voting is largely being pushed by Democrats, with 57 of the 74 pro-RCV bills introduced in 2023 state legislative sessions having “only Democrat sponsors.” According to the report, the uptick in Democrat-backed, pro-RCV bills can partially be attributed to leftist legislators seeing that “the system allow[ed] less popular Democrats [to] beat more popular Republicans in federal races in both Maine and Alaska.”
RCV proponents have gone out of their way to survey which talking points are most effective in deceiving voters into adopting the voting system. A polling memo previously obtained by The Federalist showed that misleading arguments pitching RCV as based on “the idea of fairness” appear to resonate with the electorate. Such deceptive messaging was recently used by RCV advocates ahead of a Wisconsin Senate hearing on a bill that seeks to force the state to adopt the practice for congressional primary and general elections.
If passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, SB 355 would make Georgia the sixth state to ban the use of RCV in elections. Among those to prohibit the practice are Florida, Tennessee, Montana, South Dakota, and Idaho.