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Gov. Landry Signs Bill Protecting Louisiana Elections From Ranked-Choice Voting

Jeff Landry speaking in campaign ad.
Image CreditJeff Landry/YouTube

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry signed legislation Tuesday prohibiting the use of ranked-choice voting (RCV) 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 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) on May 15 and subsequently concurred with by the Senate (29-8) last week.

SB 101 was sponsored by GOP Sen. Blake Miguez, a member of the Louisiana Freedom Caucus. Miguez also sponsored Louisiana’s recently enacted constitutional amendment banning “Zuckbucks.”

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.

RCV has caused an array of problems in the states and municipalities where it’s been implemented. Among the most significant are inaccurate election outcomes. In an Oakland school board race, for example, “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 thrown out and electors having their votes disenfranchised. A 2023 study published by the Foundation for Government Accountability discovered that RCV ballots are often discarded due to “ballot exhaustion,” which occurs 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.

SB 101’s implementation makes Louisiana the 10th state to prohibit the use of RCV in its elections. Other states to prohibit the system this year include Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

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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