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Ivey Signs Legislation To Keep Ranked-Choice Voting From ‘Confusing’ Voters

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Alabama scored a major win for election integrity Friday after Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation prohibiting the use of ranked-choice voting (RCV).

“I am proud to sign this bill which takes another step towards ensuring the confidence in our elections,” Ivey said in a statement. “Not only is ranked-choice voting confusing to voters, it also limits their ability to directly elect the candidate of their choice. Voting should be simple, and this complicated and confusing method of voting has no place in Alabama’s elections.”

SB 186 stipulates that “Ranked-choice voting shall not be used in determining the election or nomination of any candidate to any local, state, or federal 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.”

House Republicans passed the measure last week after it was approved in a near-unanimous Senate vote last month.

Under RCV, which critics often refer to as “rigged-choice voting,” 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 Maine and Alaska are the only two states to employ RCV so far, their elections since each implemented 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 in 2022 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.

RCV has also been shown to produce high rates of discarded ballots. A study published last year by the Foundation for Government Accountability, for example, found that RCV ballots are often thrown out because they’re deemed to be “exhausted.” This can happen when voters rank one or even several — but not every — candidate on their ballot, and those ballots end up tossed because their choices got eliminated.

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.”

Ivey’s signing of SB 186 makes Alabama the third state to bar the use of RCV this year, alongside Kentucky and Oklahoma. Other states to pass prohibitions on ranked-choice voting in prior years are Florida, Idaho, Tennessee, Montana, and South Dakota.

This article has been updated since publication.


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