The Left’s latest scheme to permanently change elections in America

April 9th, 2024

By Paul Teller and Jason Snead

Imagine a Super Bowl referee bending the rules to give his favorite team the win. Few would call that fair. Yet that is precisely what the Left wants to do to America’s elections. From noncitizen voting to lawsuits inviting activist judges to rewrite our election laws, left-wing activists are taking every opportunity to change elections permanently for partisan gain.

Their latest tactic is to undermine the basic principle of “one person, one vote” with a new scheme called ranked choice voting.

As we speak, liberal special interests are leading a sophisticated national campaign to push ranked choice voting in nearly every state. They have hired lobbyists, formed astroturf activist groups, and are financing state ballot measures across the country. This year alone, more than a half-dozen states, including battlegrounds such as Arizona and Nevada, are facing initiatives to change their elections with ranked choice voting.

Ranked choice voting’s proponents cloak it in deliberately misleading messaging. Advocates say it “make[s] elections more fair and more democratic.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, ranked choice voting makes voting harder and puts the public’s trust in elections in jeopardy.

The most common form of ranked choice voting being pushed nationwide is called “Final Five Voting,” and it is designed to upend elections in two fundamental ways. First, it replaces party primaries with California-style jungle primaries in which all candidates compete in a single contest. That means no more Republican and Democratic nominees and no guarantee that voters will have a choice between the two parties in November.

Then, for the general election, voters must rank up to five candidates in each ranked choice voting race. In federal election years, ballots typically feature a dozen or more major races. That means voters must wade through and carefully rank 60 or more candidates each election.

It only gets more complicated from there. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, ranked choice voting manufactures one. Tabulators strike the candidate with the fewest first-place votes and redistribute his or her ballots to each voter’s next-highest choice. These elimination rounds continue until someone (often the person who initially came in second or even third place) wins a majority of the remaining votes. Needless to say, the ranked choice voting process takes much longer to tabulate, leading to delayed results, recounts, and frustrated voters.

Only a few dozen localities and two of the smallest states, Maine and Alaska, use ranked choice voting. Their experience shows how quickly ranked choice voting can go off the rails. In 2022, for example, officials in Oakland, California, certified the wrong winner in a school board race and failed to catch their own mistake. It took four months and a lawsuit to seat the true winner. In Alaska, officials concealed full election results for 15 days while the state labored to gather and tabulate votes.

Ranked choice voting’s track record is a litany of failed promises. Studies show ranked choice voting makes campaigns more negative, makes candidates more reliant on “dark money” groups, discourages turnout, and disproportionately harms minority voters.

Unsurprisingly, buyer’s remorse is common with ranked choice voting. Oakland is now trying to junk this troublesome system, and Alaskans will have the chance to vote on a citizen-led ranked choice voting repeal this fall. Aspen, Colorado, repealed the system after just one election. And in Utah, half of the cities that signed up for a ranked choice voting pilot program have walked away.

Ranked choice voting pretends to be a bottom-up, bipartisan reform. But it is actually the product of a concerted national campaign bankrolled by an elite group of liberal megadonors such as John Arnold and George Soros. The backers of ranked choice voting on the Left are spending tens of millions promoting it, backing ballot measures to lock ranked choice voting into state constitutions, and hiring consultants and lobbyists, including voices on the Right — all to peddle a voting scheme aimed at pushing politics to the Left.

Fortunately, conservatives are fighting back. Our organizations are proud partners in a national coalition dedicated to stopping the spread of ranked choice voting. This important task is being carried out in states across the country. So far, five states have banned ranked choice voting, and more are advancing bills this year to halt this partisan scam in its tracks.

That is remarkable progress, but the fight for fair elections is far from over. Progressive elites are doubling down, aiming to lock as many states as possible into their partisan scheme before voters realize how flawed ranked choice voting really is. If they succeed, 2024 may be remembered as the year the Left permanently changed elections in America for their own gain.

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