Ranked-Choice Voting Would Be Catastrophic for U.S. Elections

Proposals to adopt ranked-choice voting (RCV) in states and localities across the country could lead to a full blown catastrophe for America’s elections. Look no further than major problems caused by RCV in Alaska and Oakland, California during the 2022 election cycle to get an idea of what widespread RCV could mean for the rest of the country.

So what is ranked-choice voting anyways? According to Stop RCV:

RCV is a complex process where voters can rank multiple candidates. If one candidate receives a majority of first-place votes, it works like any other election (the rankings are irrelevant). If not, a computer adjusts the results so that the candidate with the least first-place votes is eliminated, and first-place votes for that candidate are disregarded in favor of whoever is second-place on those ballots. Any of those ballots that do not rank a second-place candidate are thrown out. The remaining ballots are re-tabulated to see if a candidate now has a majority of adjusted first-place votes. 

This process is done over and over until the computer determines that a candidate has a majority of the remaining, adjusted first-place votes. Many ballots may be thrown out, since not all voters will be willing to rank all the candidates. Thus when RCV claims to create a “majority winner,” it does that by adjusting and discarding ballots. It allows a candidate who lost in the first round to win after multiple rounds of adjusted vote counting. 

Not only does this process take time, it cannot even begin until every single ballot is received and processed. In other words, vote counting starts later and takes longer. In a large election, only a computer can run the complex adjustments, making RCV dependent on technology and hand-recounts and audits much harder. 

Beyond the obvious administrative issues RCV causes, why is it so bad on principal? The Lawyers Democracy Fund explained:

RCV clearly violates the one-person, one-vote principle that the Supreme Court has declared is enshrined in the Constitution. RCV allows some voters to cast multiple votes, while some only cast one vote.

RCV also creates problems that do not exist under non-RCV election systems such as ballot exhaustion. Ballot exhaustion is when a voter does not select more than one or rank all candidates in a ranked choice election. Their ballots are not counted in the subsequent rounds and they are effectively disenfranchised.

RCV does not increase participation. In fact, it serves as voter suppression by sowing confusion and hurting voter confidence. A post-election poll in Maine, the first place to use RCV in a federal election, found that confusion over RCV was the number one reason voters in one party did not vote in the general election. A nationwide poll in November 2019 found that 48% of voters opposed RCV and 21% were not sure whether they would support it.

RNLA wants you to be equipped to fight back against RCV. Join us this Friday at 2:00 p.m. ET for a webinar with Honest Election Project’s Jason Snead and Save Our States’ Trent England. This webinar will dive into what ranked-choice voting is and its disastrous consequences, so you can effectively advocate against it.

Register here today!


Ranked-Choice Voting Resources