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Montana’s Secretary of State details her opposition to Ranked Choice Voting

We’ve previously highlighted Washington’s Democratic Secretary of State’s concerns about Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Showing the continued bipartisan opposition to RCV, Montana’s Republican Secretary of State is also among the regional opponents of this highly controversial voting scheme.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Montana’s Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen about Ranked Choice Voting and asked if she had any concerns. Here is what Secretary Jacobsen told me:

“I have serious concerns with the efforts funded with dark money to impose Ranked Choice Voting. It is a very deceptive practice and would undermine all of our efforts to secure our elections in Montana. It would also create serious voter confusion and frustration.

For example, following implementation of RCV in Alaska, my Alaskan election colleagues referred to it as ‘the biggest nightmare they've ever had to deal with’ – so much in fact, that Alaska is currently in the process of getting RCV repealed. Studies have shown that RCV can decrease voter turnout, create distrust in the process, and disenfranchise voters, specifically minorities.

With RCV, you are essentially forced to vote for someone you would never vote for or endorse to begin with. Montana has very well-run elections, the best in the nation. We have implemented laws that enforce election integrity and confidence of elections in our state. We will not allow any implementation of Ranked Choice Voting to weaken our strong elections.”

Here is a quote from the Princeton University professor who conducted one of the RCV studies referenced by Secretary Jacobsen:


“In recent years, ranked choice voting has been hyped as a solution to many perceived problems in American elections. Unfortunately, the hype has often outpaced the evidence. My research raises major concerns about whether RCV may work to further reduce the electoral influence of racial and ethnic minority communities.”

As the debate around RCV continues across our region, it is important to remember that there is a big difference between open primaries and ranked-choice voting. Moving to a clean open primary is a debate worth having (preferably a Top Two).

For example, this is exactly what is occurring right now in South Dakota. South Dakota voters will consider a clean open primary (Top 2) constitutional amendment this year that is not tied to the controversy of Ranked Choice Voting. Whether or not to adopt open primaries should stand alone as a policy debate without being joined at the hip with the problems associated with RCV.

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