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New MSPC video exposes problems with Ranked Choice Voting

Mountain States Policy Center has released a new video exploring problems with Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Ranked choice voting continues to be extremely controversial across the country.

In 2020, 50.55% of voters in Alaska adopted a Top 4 and RCV ballot measure. The new process has been so unpopular, however, Alaska voters will now have the opportunity this fall to repeal it with the certification of a new ballot measure: 

“With thousands of names to spare, Alaskans for Honest Elections has won the right to have its repeal of ranked-choice voting on the ballot this year.”

A proposed ballot measure currently gathering signatures in Idaho is being portrayed as an effort to bring the state open primaries, but it is joined at the hip with also imposing RCV. It is possible, however, to have open primaries without using ranked-choice voting.

For example, Washington State has had experience both with an open primary and with local voters in Pierce County adopting and then quickly repealing ranked-choice voting.

We had the opportunity last year to interview Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs to discuss his opposition to RCV. Here is what Secretary Hobbs told us:

“Ranked-choice voting adds a layer of complexity to voting that threatens to disenfranchise people who aren’t experts at the process. This includes people living with developmental disabilities – such as my son – for whom choosing one candidate is more straightforward than figuring out how to rank a list of them. Additionally, it can be a challenge for newly-naturalized citizens to adapt to American elections. Converting some elections to ranked-choice voting would increase the obstacles to exercising their rights as Americans. Top-two primaries present none of these challenges. You pick your favorite, then you send in your ballot. That’s something people can easily grasp. I stand firmly behind Top Two and encourage other states to learn from our usage of it.”

Secretary Hobbs also recently told Crosscut:

“Oh, I have lots of feelings about ranked-choice voting. I’m completely against ranked-choice voting; I used to be for it. But when you occupy this office, you have to take a step back and look at how elections affect everyone. Right? You know, the top three things, transparency, accessibility and security is what I look at. And then just with my own personal situation, my mom came to this country, she didn’t know any English. You know, we both learned by watching Sesame Street. And then my middle son is a child with special needs. So imagine, if you will, a naturalized citizen where English is not their first language, receiving a ballot, where they have to vote by ranked choice? How are they going to do that? They don’t know how to do that . . . And that’s why I am no longer for ranked-choice voting because you will disenfranchise people. They will not take full advantage of their vote because they don’t understand what they’re doing.”

A recent Boise State University poll found support for an open primary but not for ranked-choice voting.

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). Adopting open primaries, however, need not be limited to a take-it-or-leave-it proposition tied to the controversy of ranked-choice voting.

Learn more about the problems with RCV in our new video.

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