“Ranked-Choice Voting is MAGA’s Latest Target; Leonard Leo and other far-right power players are attacking a bipartisan election reform.”

Brendan Fischer writes for Documented (here’s the version at Rolling Stone):

An organized and well-funded network of right-wing groups is spending countless millions attacking a bipartisan election reform that could threaten the MAGA political project.

Ranked-choice voting — which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, rather than just selecting one — has been used in state and federal elections in Alaska and Maine, and has been gaining momentum in dozens of other states and municipalities, often with bipartisan support. Voters in Nevada and Oregon will hold referendums on adopting the system in 2024, and several other state and local governments have also been considering ranked-choice voting measures.

But beginning in early 2022, and intensifying in 2023, a range of so-called “election integrity” groups, from Leonard Leo’s Honest Elections Project to Cleta Mitchell’s Election Integrity Network, have made stopping ranked-choice voting a top legislative priority.

Five states have since banned any city or county government from adopting the system, and at least six other states are considering similar measures this year. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) approved a model bill banning ranked-choice voting last year, a Turning Point Action official successfully pressed the Republican National Committee to adopt a resolution opposing the practice, and the Heritage Foundation has organized grassroots activists to oppose ranked choice voting in several states.

The far-right fixation on ranked-choice voting “is a bit bizarre,” said Rick Hasen, a professor and director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project at UCLA’s Law School. “It’s not really an issue of ‘honest elections’ or ‘election integrity,’” he said. “It’s a debate about the best way to translate voters’ preferences into election winners.”

“I would guess,” Hasen said, “that the reason for the fear of ranked choice voting is that it could help elect more Republican moderates rather than more extreme Republicans.”

Ranked choice voting is one of the few — if not the only — democracy reforms that still has bipartisan support. For example, 21 cities in deep-red Utah use ranked choice voting, where it is broadly popular, and bills to implement it have attracted Republican co-sponsors in states like Wisconsin, Virginia, and Georgia. The organized attacks on ranked choice voting appear aimed at eroding support for the reform among Republican lawmakers and conservative activists.

Groups backed by right-wing activist Leonard Leo are playing an outsized role in the campaign against ranked choice voting. Leo, who served as former President Donald Trump’s judicial adviser, helped construct the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority. In 2021, he was put in control of a $1.6 billion dark money fund to help push U.S. politics to the right.

While Leo’s relationship with Trump has frayed — he reportedly considered boosting another MAGA-aligned candidate, Ron DeSantis, in the GOP presidential primary — the success of his political project relies on electing far-right candidates under the same system that produced Trump….

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