FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2023
Gov. Burgum’s misguided analysis jeopardizes the right to vote in free & fair elections voters can trust
Washington, D.C. – Legislation to prohibit Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) and approval voting in North Dakota, H.B 1273, was vetoed by Governor Doug Burgum.
The bill, which was supported by more than two-thirds majorities in each of the Legislative Assembly’s chambers, stipulates that “[a] ranked-choice voting method that allows voters to rank candidates for an office in order of preference and has ballots cast tabulated in multiple rounds following the elimination of a candidate until a single candidate attains a majority may not be used in determining the election or nomination of any candidate to any local, state, or federal elective office.”
Additionally, “[a]n approval voting method that allows voters to vote for all the candidates the voter approves of in each race and the candidates receiving the most votes will be elected until all necessary seats are filled in each race may not be used in determining the election or nomination of any candidate to any local, state, or federal elective office.”
RCV—also known as “Rigged-Choice Voting”—has been an unmitigated disaster when implemented in public elections, makes voting more difficult, reduces transparency, and puts voter confidence at risk.
National Chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued the following statement:
“It’s unfortunate that Governor Burgum would veto such commonsense legislation protecting the right to vote in free and fair elections voters can trust. Now more than ever we need to safeguard the integrity of our elections and the confidence of voters, but disastrous Ranked-Choice Voting schemes do precisely the opposite. They must always be rejected and we call on the legislature, which backed this bill with more than two-thirds majorities in each chamber, to push past the governor’s misguided analysis by employing a veto override without delay.
“Make no mistake, Ranked-Choice Voting is a scheme designed by Democrats and liberal Republicans to confuse voters, protect failed lawmakers who have long lost the confidence of their constituents, and to ultimately rig elections in their favor. It’s been an unmitigated disaster when implemented in public elections, makes voting more difficult, reduces transparency, and puts voter confidence at risk. Under a Ranked-Choice Voting Scheme, liberal politicians get elected to office and conservative candidates are defeated.”
RCV has been an unmitigated disaster when implemented in public elections. POLITICO reported that RCV led to chaos and confusion among voters in New York City’s 2021 election, which went two weeks without a winner. “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.
Nearly two months after the November 2022 election, Alameda County in 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.”
RCV fails to deliver on its promises. Officials in Utah have reported numerous concerns with the state’s nascent pilot program, with several jurisdictions reporting that promised cost savings have not materialized, voter engagement has fallen, and even engaged citizens have struggled to adapt to RCV. In fact, voters are being disenfranchised because 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, while City Council Race 2 had a discarded or spoiled rate of over 74%.
RCV puts elections and voter confidence at risk. An Oakland, California school board race that used RCV recently certified the wrong winner. Hundreds of voters failed to list a first-choice candidate and officials failed to tabulate those ballots properly under the law. Worse still, the mistake was not caught by government officials—it took an audit by outside experts to find the problem. By then the wrong winner had been certified, forcing the true winner to file a lawsuit to be recognized.
RCV makes voting more difficult and may discourage people from voting at all. RCV raises the burden on voters, requiring them to know enough to rank multiple candidates in each race. Evidence suggests this added complexity discourages voting. For example, Alaska’s 2022 general election had an extraordinarily low turnout—particularly among low-income, low-propensity, and minority voters.
RCV reduces transparency and makes recounts more difficult. RCV turns tabulation into a black box, making it harder for voters to track the process, harder for officials to catch mistakes, and makes recounts in close races even more difficult.
RCV risks unnecessary election delays, particularly in close races. The added difficulty of tabulating RCV elections and recounting close races risks delaying election results.
RCV fails to deliver true majorities. When voters do not rank enough candidates, their ballots are thrown out. This is called ballot exhaustion. Often, so many ballots are thrown out that candidates only win a majority of the remaining votes, but not a majority of all votes cast.
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.