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Gov. Landry Won’t Say If He’ll Sign A Bill Shielding Louisiana’s Elections From Ranked-Choice Voting

Jeff Landry speaking.
Image CreditWWLTV/YouTube

The GOP-controlled Louisiana Senate passed legislation Monday prohibiting the use of ranked-choice voting (RCV) in elections. But Republican Gov. Jeff Landry won’t say if he’ll sign the bill into law.

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.

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 bill would not apply to “all votes cast by military and overseas voters by special absentee by mail ballots in accordance with the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.”

SB 101 originally passed the Senate in a 29-9 vote in March. An amended version of the bill was passed by the House (73-23) last week and subsequently concurred by the Senate (29-8) on Monday.

“With the passage of my bill, voters in Louisiana can rest assured that we will not abandon our one American citizen, one vote elections,” bill sponsor and GOP Sen. Blake Miguez said. “This is America! No one should ever be forced to vote for candidates that do not align with their political views just to have their ballots counted.”

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

Having cleared both chambers of the state legislature, SB 101 now heads to Landry’s desk for signature. While outlets such as The Washington Times and Louisiana Illuminator reported that Landry is “expected” to sign the bill, the governor’s office did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment on whether he will do so.

If signed by Landry, SB 101 would make Louisiana the 10th state to prohibit the use of RCV in its elections.

While regularly dismissed by its supporters, ranked-choice voting has caused numerous problems in the states and municipalities where it’s been implemented. Among the most notable problems produced by RCV is 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.” 

The system has also led to high rates of ballots being discarded and electors having their votes disenfranchised. In one Utah town that used an RCV pilot program for its 2021 municipal elections, more ballots than not were discarded or spoiled. A study published last year by the Foundation for Government Accountability discovered that RCV ballots are often thrown out due to “ballot exhaustion,” which happens 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 instance, more than 11,000 “exhausted” ballots were discarded because those electors “voted for only one Republican candidate and no one else.”

RCV has also produced election results that contradict the desires of voters. 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.

Maine and Alaska are currently the only states that utilize ranked-choice voting for statewide races. Electors in Nevada and Oregon will vote on pro-RCV ballot measures during their respective elections this November. Meanwhile, a constitutional amendment proposal prohibiting the use of RCV in Missouri elections will appear on the state’s fall ballot.

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