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Must Read Alaska: Who is really behind ranked-choice voting? The usual suspects
Guest Author • Nov 27, 2023

Democracy is not “heads I win, tails you lose,” but some left-leaning reformers want it that way. When they disagree with election outcomes, they demand wholesale changes to the process. Ranked-choice voting, or RCV, is the latest example.

Normal elections are “one person, one vote”— each voter casts one vote in each race, with a single, simple process for counting votes. But in RCV elections, voters can rank multiple candidates and there may be many rounds of counting, adjusting and recounting votes.

The mess this creates is not theoretical. This summer, Arlington County, Virginia, experimented with RCV in a primary election. The Washington Post noted “emerging pushback” before election day, with “frustration … focused on the wonky, hard-to-follow way that votes are counted.” Civil rights groups raised concerns about disenfranchisement. After the election, Arlington officials announced the county will go back to normal elections.

RCV has been historically rejected. The system was invented in Victorian England but failed to gain traction there. It was triedin various American cities early in the 20th century, but every one of them subsequently repealed it. More recently, Utah created a pilot program for local governments to use RCV. Half of those that tried it have already ended the experiment and returned to a normal process.

So who really wants RCV? And why? Most of the push comes from a network of advocacy organizations on the political left. They claim RCV will reduce partisanship, make campaigns less negative, and give voters more choices. None of that seems likely. In fact, the system has flipped two congressional seats — in Alaska and Maine — from Republican to Democrat.

Read the full op-ed on Must Read Alaska's website.