Dorothy Moon, IDGOP Chairwoman
January 27, 2023
A consistent theme in the Left’s push for power has been their attempts to remake election processes. No-fault absentee voting. “Nonpartisan” redistricting commissions. Drop boxes. Noncitizen voting. Now, their latest push for Ranked Choice Voting.
The Framers of our Constitution grounded our elections on a simple principle: one person, one vote. Each voter chooses one candidate, and the winner secures the plurality of votes. Conversely, in Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) voters rank the candidates on the ballot, from their first to last choice. Votes are then tabulated in rounds. In the first round, all first choices are tabulated. If no candidate wins a 50-percent majority in round one, then the lowest vote-getter is dropped and ballots who listed that candidate in the first-choice slot are re-cast for their second-choice candidate. The process continues until one candidate exceeds 50% and a winner is declared.
RCV poses several obvious difficulties. First, RCV is unnecessarily complicated and lacks real transparency. In the jurisdictions where Democrats have successfully adopted RCV—Berkeley, Cambridge, Seattle, NYC—voters have consistently said the process is confusing and instructions are cumbersome. Because completing an RCV ballot is difficult, tabulation errors are much higher than with traditional voting.
Second, RCV can create “ballot exhaustion.” Some voters will rank some, but not all candidates, and if their preferred candidates are eliminated, then they will ultimately cast no vote at all. Whether a voter chooses to rank all candidates may also reflect an uninformed or misinformed choice. Does a voter believe she is obligated to rank all candidates, even candidates she would never cast an affirmative vote for? Or does a voter believe it is appropriate to rank only candidates she affirmatively supports, even if it means not completing the ballot?
Under RCV, voters don’t just select the candidate they want to win the race, they must rank all of the candidates, from their top pick to their least favorite, even if their last choice is someone they would never vote for or even know much about. The likelihood that a voter knows something about every candidate running—especially in a multicandidate field—is slim. But worse, under RCV voters are forced to rank candidates they may not even want to win or risk that their ballot is cast aside if the race moves to additional rounds of tabulation and reassignment.
Third, RCV changes the nature of an election. Imagine you are invited to a party and asked to vote by ranked choice for your favorite flavor of pop to be served. Your favorite is Dr. Pepper, but you would consider drinking Pepsi or Coke in a pinch, so you rank the three sodas in that order. In the first ballot, the three sodas split the vote roughly in thirds, but Dr. Pepper comes in last and is eliminated. Your vote is recast for Pepsi, which is declared the winner. You never wanted Pepsi, of course, but you could live with Pepsi, and that is where your vote lands. The difference is significant: in a winner-take-all election, the candidate with the most votes wins—the candidate that the most voters want. But in a RCV election, the candidate who wins is the candidate that a majority of the electorate can live with. The election answers a different question entirely.
Elizabeth Warren, Eric Holder, Bernie Sanders, and a whole host of Leftist organizations all support Ranked Choice Voting. The people of Idaho need to affirm our Framers’ vision and ban this silly idea from our elections.