Protect My Ballot: New Campaign Exposes Flaws in Ranked Choice Voting
Coalition of state think tanks, led by Alaska Policy Forum, educates on pitfalls of this convoluted voting scheme
Anchorage, Alaska (Friday, July 24, 2020)—Today, a coalition of state-based think tanks, led by Alaska Policy Forum, launched the national education campaign Protect My Ballot. The campaign details the harmful consequences of an electoral scheme known as Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).
The campaign highlights bipartisan opposition to RCV—ranging from California Governor Gavin Newsom, to Alaska’s former Democratic Senator Mark Begich, to members of the NAACP New York State Conference—along with a list of localities that have repealed RCV.
View the campaign website at ProtectMyBallot.com. View a brief explainer video on Ranked Choice Voting here.
Unlike a traditional election where voters select one candidate and the candidate with the most votes wins, under RCV, voters are expected to rank candidates. If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the first round of counting, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The process repeats until a remaining candidate receives a majority of votes.
This confusing process leads to many unintended consequences. For instance, if a voter misunderstands the process or chooses not to rank all candidates, her ballot could be eliminated from consideration. It’s as though she never showed up on election day. That may explain why a handful of jurisdictions that previously adopted and tested RCV, have since repealed it.
Research also casts doubt on proponents’ claims about the benefits of RCV. According to research from Jason McDaniel, an associate professor of political science at San Francisco State University, voter turnout decreased (three to five percentage points on average) in cities where RCV was used.
Coalition members released the following statements:
Bethany Marcum, Executive Director at Alaska Policy Forum:
“As Alaskans take to the polls in November, history should provide a warning for what Ranked Choice Voting would lead to. Not only can Ranked Choice Voting cause votes to be discarded, research shows it also decreases voter turnout. We need to encourage Americans of all backgrounds to visit the polls, not give them another reason to avoid casting a ballot.”
Annette Meeks, Founder and CEO of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota:
“Public participation in elections is vital for a democracy to work. Discouraging and complicating the system threatens the people’s voice. That’s why a bipartisan coalition of citizens and legislators wants to ban ranked choice voting in Minnesota.”
Trent England, Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs:
“Ranked Choice Voting is not the solution for election reform. In Oklahoma, our Chief Election Official has opposed this system. Not only does it disenfranchise voters, but implementing it in Oklahoma would be a logistical nightmare.”
Matthew Gagnon, CEO of Maine Policy Institute:
“Whether you examine data captured during Maine’s brief experience with ranked-choice voting or the experiences of other jurisdictions, the lofty claims used to sell this voting system to the general public do not withstand factual scrutiny. Voters should be skeptical when they hear from special interest groups trying to change the way we exercise our sacred right to vote.”
Protect My Ballot coalition members include Alaska Policy Forum, Maine Policy Institute, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.