FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2023
RCV Scheme was designed to confuse voters, rig elections in favor of liberal incumbents & defeat conservative challengers
Washington, D.C. – The Texas Legislature is considering critical legislation to prohibit use of the Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) Scheme in elections for public office, including those for political party offices and primaries. Senate Bill 921, which was passed by the Senate on March 28 with bipartisan support, awaits further action in the House.
Importantly, the bill stipulates that “In an election requiring a majority vote to be elected to a public or political party office or to receive a political party ’s nomination, a candidate must receive more than half of the votes as originally cast. A majority may not be determined by using a preferential voting system to reassign votes.”
Additionally, a “preferential voting system” is defined as “a voting system which permits a voter to rank each candidate through a numerical designation from the candidate the voter favors most to the candidate the voter favors least.”
RCV—also known as “Rigged-Choice Voting”—has made voting more difficult, reduced transparency, and put confidence and certainty at risk for both voters and candidates when implemented in public elections.
The Alaska Supreme Court recently ruled that an independent candidate for U.S. House was improperly removed from last year’s confusing special election ballot. The candidate withdrew from the race after finishing third among 48 candidates in the ranked-choice special primary election. The Democrat candidate, who finished fourth, went on to win both the ranked-choice special election in August and the ranked-choice regular general election in November, which under the law should have been a four-person field.
An April 2023 report published by University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs found that a careful review of RCV “fails to support four of the advocates’ promises for improvements over today’s system.” Additionally, evidence shows “no difference in turnout in cities using RCV compared to those using the current system. They report errors, confusion, and lower turnout due to the greater complexity of RCV and its process of ranking candidates and tabulating multiple rounds of voting.”
National Chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued the following statement:
“We applaud Senator Bryan Hughes for leading this commonsense, bipartisan 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 and have been an unmitigated disaster when implemented in public elections—making voting more difficult, reducing transparency, and putting voter confidence at risk. They are designed by liberals to confuse voters and ultimately ensure left-wing politicians succeed and conservative candidates are defeated, first taking root in local elections and then proliferating to primaries and general elections for state and federal office. Without delay, we urge action from House to protect the right to vote by slamming the door to ranked-choice expansion in Texas.”
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, 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%.
An April 2023 report published by University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs found that a careful review of RCV “fails to support four of the advocates’ promises for improvements over today’s system.” The report concluded that supporters of the RCV falsely claim that the practice will reduce polarization of major political parties (RCV actually increased animosity among Democrats and Republicans), increase the diversity of elected government officials, increase voter turnout and engagement of minority voters, and decrease negative campaigning.
Importantly, evidence shows “no difference in turnout in cities using RCV compared to those using the current system. They report errors, confusion, and lower turnout due to the greater complexity of RCV and its process of ranking candidates and tabulating multiple rounds of voting.”
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.
Following the 2022 Oakland, California mayoral race, the Oakland NAACP demanded a recount saying that confusion over RCV led thousands of voters to select more than one candidate in the same ranking or submit ballots with no rankings at all. “I gotta make all these choices…Now I’m confused as hell and I’m trying to explain this to my neighbors,” Oakland NAACP member Richard Breaux said. Dr. Allie Whitehurst, Oakland NAACP Political Action Chair, is also critical of RCV. “The leader who everyone thought might be the winner led up until the eighth round, and so it’s very confusing,” said Whitehurst.
According to mayoral candidate Seneca Scott, voters were once again misinformed when they went to the polls. “It should trigger an automatic recount after the amount of miseducation done by elected officials and the city clerk’s office in an election that was decided by just over one-half a percent,” Scott said.
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.
The Alaska Supreme Court recently ruled that the state’s Division of Elections improperly removed an independent candidate for U.S. House, Al Gross, from last year’s confusing special election ballot. Gross withdrew from the race after finishing third among 48 candidates in the ranked-choice special primary election. Democrat Mary Peltola, who finished fourth behind Gross, went on to win both the ranked-choice special election in August and the ranked-choice regular general election in November.
Gross’ withdrawal has still not been explained, and the division advanced only three candidates to the four-person ranked-choice special election after removing Gross from the ballot. The court concluded that Gross’ removal violated state law, stating, “had the Division strictly followed the law, Dr. Gross’s name should have remained on the special general election ballot.”
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.
Photo Credit: Russ Moore