FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2023
RCV Scheme was designed to rig elections in favor of failed incumbents, defeat conservative challengers
Washington, D.C. – A bill to abolish Utah’s winner-take-all primaries and replace them with a Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) system has failed to advance in the state Senate.
Initially passed by the House last month, House Bill 205 would have fundamentally transformed the state’s election system by expanding the state’s nascent pilot program allowing RCV for local elections for use in certain primaries.
Under RCV, which progressives around the country are systematically pushing as a way to ensure left-leaning politicians get elected to office, voters are asked to rank multiple candidates rather than vote for a single person. If no candidate wins a clear majority, the one with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated, and his or her supporters’ second-place votes are counted. If a supporter did not list a second choice, that ballot is labeled “exhausted” and is thrown out. This process continues until a single candidate wins a majority of the remaining votes.
Learn more about the RCV Scheme here.
Importantly, RCV has been fraught with problems and continually fails to deliver on its promises where implemented. In fact, officials in Utah have reported numerous concerns with the state’s pilot program in local elections. While the mayor of Sandy has referred to the town as a “guinea pig,” several jurisdictions have reported that promised cost savings have not materialized, voter engagement has fallen, and voters have struggled to adapt.
Under the RCV pilot program, many ballots are not being counted due to errors made in the ranking process. In the Genola City Council Race 1 in 2021, 58% of ballots were either discarded out of hand or otherwise spoiled. Genola City Council Race 2 had a discarded or spoiled rate of over 74%.
The Election Transparency Initiative conducted a robust grassroots outreach and education effort in Utah to stop RCV expansion.
National Chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued the following statement:
“Utah voters are very fortunate that this harmful bill was rejected in the Senate, and now more than ever they should be confident that every vote is counted fairly, openly, and equally in honest elections. But House Bill 205 would have done the exact opposite.
“The reality is that RCV has been disastrous in practice, is confusing, causes delays, and disenfranchises voters who may question whether they should even participate anymore. Utah should be getting rid of the RCV, not expanding it, and we urge the legislature’s continued diligence to guarantee the scheme is never given an opportunity to undermine the integrity of our elections now and in the future.”
RCV has led to chaos and confusion among voters when implemented in public elections, further undermining their confidence in the outcome of elections.
“The darling of the wealthy, liberal elite, ranked choice voting was used for the first time in New York’s primary and now it’s an unmitigated disaster, with mistakes plaguing the count and voters still in the dark about which candidate won, a week after the contest,” one Boston Herald columnist wrote.
In 2021, New York City went two weeks without a winner in its disastrous ranked-choice mayoral primary. And nearly two months after the November 2022 election, Alameda County, California announced that it systematically counted the ballots incorrectly.
“Oops. The error didn’t affect the outcome in most races, but it flipped a seat on the Oakland School Board, and now the question is what to do about the certified winner who actually lost and the third-place finisher who won,” the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board wrote. “Blame the mess on official incompetence, but reserve some ire for ranked-choice voting (RCV), a system that makes it complicated even to explain the mistake.”
HB 205 is a backdoor expansion of RCV in Utah. Utah already allows RCV in certain local races as part of a pilot program. RCV has faced criticism from some local governments that have piloted it, yet HB 205 would expand its use to a new set of federal and state offices.
HB 205 allows counties to conduct primary elections by “majority method,” which would require party nominees to win a majority of the votes cast rather than a plurality. Rather than hold a runoff between the top two vote winners, HB 205 uses the RCV scheme to determine the winner. The bill’s supporters deceptively call it “contingency voting.”
“Contingency voting” is really just another form of RCV. Under HB 205, voters in counties that opt to use the “majority method” would be given the opportunity to rank up to five candidates in each primary race for “Congress, state legislative office, governor, attorney general, state treasurer, or state auditor.” If no candidate wins over 50% of the vote, a so-called ‘instant runoff’ is held between the two highest vote-getters. Votes are recounted and assigned to whichever of the two finalists the voter ranked higher on their ballot (assuming they did).
The Election Transparency Initiative, a partnership between the American Principles Project (APP) and Susan B. Anthony (SBA) Pro-Life America was organized to combat federal H.R. 1 and H.R. 4 legislation and advocate for state-based election reforms that voters can trust.