“Ranked-Choice Voting Draws Bipartisan Ire”


In an era warped by extreme partisan discord, ranked-choice voting has managed to unsettle Republican and Democratic politicians alike. Long fearful of African American voter strength and cross-racial coalitions that sometimes spring up, many white Republican political power brokers in the South have been strategizing to eliminate an option like RCV before it can garner an iota of interest or support.

Republicans can point to losses from the RCV system. Only Alaska and Maine use RCV in state and federal elections (Hawaii also uses RCV in certain statewide races). In Maine, Jared Golden earned his 2018 swing-seat victory in Congress after an instant runoff put him over the top against Republican Bruce Poliquin, the incumbent congressman, who led after the first round.

RCV opponents in Alaska have launched a repeal campaign after Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola fended off 12 candidates, including former Republican governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, after three rounds of balloting in 2022 for the state’s sole congressional seat. The 2024 initiative proposes a return to a traditional partisan primary system and will appear on the November ballot.

Rolling Stone/Documented investigation found that far-right groups have poured millions into a coordinated campaign to destabilize RCV, principally because the mechanism gives voters more choices—and when they have choices, they have the opportunity to select less polarizing candidates. The Republican National Committee officially declared its opposition to ranked-choice voting in 2023. The party claimed that the mechanism makes voting too complex and time-consuming, leading to “ballot exhaustion” and other euphemisms that would make George Orwell seize up.’Some longtime Democratic incumbents are also keen to shut down threats to their power. The District of Columbia Democratic Party has opposed a ballot initiative, currently in the signature-gathering phase, that would institute RCV for the city elections. Now in her third term, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has called RCV “a bad idea.”…

Rick Hasen, a UCLA professor of law and political science who specializes in election law, told the Prospect that RCV is “better understood as a fear of moderate candidates being elected to office.” He adds, “If you think about places like Alabama and Mississippi, they’ve got Republican majorities, but they’ve got a fairly sizable Black population that hasn’t been able to get its fair share of political power. Maybe moving toward ranked-choice voting could [create] coalitions that could produce some more moderate Republicans.”

Share this: