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Louisiana Republicans Pass Bill Ensuring Ranked-Choice Voting Can’t Disenfranchise Voters

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The Republican-controlled Louisiana Senate advanced legislation on Wednesday prohibiting the use of ranked-choice voting in elections.

SB 101 stipulates that a “ranked-choice voting or instant runoff voting method … shall not be used in determining the election or nomination of any candidate to any local, state, or federal elective office in this state.” The measure would, however, allow the system to be used “for absentee voting by military and overseas voters pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.”

SB 101 passed the Senate in a 29-9 vote, with two Democrats joining 27 Republicans in voting “yea.” All “nay” votes came from Democrats, while Republican Sen. Michael Fesi was absent.

The House will soon consider the measure.

Under RCV, 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.

When pressed by Democrat Sen. Edward Price on the need to prohibit RCV, given that no Louisiana locality currently uses it, bill sponsor and GOP Sen. Blake Miguez noted the importance of preventing the chaotic system from being implemented in the future and disenfranchising Pelican State voters.

“We are trying to ensure that ranked-choice voting doesn’t become a reality here in Louisiana,” Miguez said. “America is about … one person, one vote, and to have these complex tabulated ballots is un-American, and I think both sides of the aisle understand this. And that’s why we don’t want it here in Louisiana.”

Miguez is a member of the Louisiana Freedom Caucus and sponsored the recently enacted constitutional amendment banning “Zuckbucks.”

As alluded to by Miguez, various U.S. municipalities that have adopted RCV 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.” Meanwhile, a Utah town that used an RCV pilot program for its 2021 municipal elections experienced high rates of ballots being discarded or spoiled.

study published by the Foundation for Government Accountability last year found that RCV ballots are often discarded due to “ballot exhaustion,” a term 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. In Alaska’s 2022 special congressional election, for example, more than 11,000 “exhausted” ballots were thrown out because those electors “voted for only one Republican candidate and no one else.”

RCV has also produced election results that contradict voters’ desires. Some of these examples include the aforementioned special congressional election in Alaska and a 2018 Maine congressional contest. The Democrat candidates won both races despite Republican candidates receiving more votes in the first round of voting. While Maine and Alaska are currently the only states that use the system for statewide races, electors in Nevada and Oregon will vote on pro-RCV ballot measures during their respective elections this November.

States prohibiting the use of RCV for elections include Florida, Idaho, Tennessee, Montana, and South Dakota.


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