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Juneau Empire: Failed election shows why Alaska should repeal ranked-choice voting
Guest Author • Dec 05, 2023

Most Americans just want elections where it’s easy to vote, hard to cheat and easy to trust the results. Alaska has experimented with ranked-choice voting (RCV) and a citizens’ initiative now proposes to repeal it. That would be the smart choice to protect Alaska elections.

RCV makes the process more complicated, both for voters and for those who run elections. An example of an actual failed election shows how the problems with RCV can come together to create a perfect storm.

California allows local governments to use RCV for local elections. Alameda County, home to the city of Oakland, used RCV in its elections last November. At first, everything appeared to have gone just fine. The county certified vote totals and winners in all of their local elections. Weeks later, as county staff prepared for Christmas break, they got a phone call that upended everything.

Independent researchers had audited the county’s election and found a mistake. Actually, they found a series of mistakes that threw off results in multiple races. Because RCV makes elections more dependent on technology, much of the process happens inside a “black box.” This lack of transparency meant that no one at the county ever noticed the error. Neither did anyone at any of the campaigns. If not for the audit, nobody ever would have discovered what happened.

Read the full op-ed on the Juneau Empire's website.