Last month several press articles surfaced stating Brad Raffensperger would propose new election rules changes to set the stage for Ranked-Choice voting in Georgia Elections.
Subsequently, during a webcast by the Foundation for Government Accountability, Raffensperger seemed to downplay the support-for and interest-in considering Ranked-Choice voting. Recent discussions with multiple members of Georgia’s General Assembly share a similar tone: little to no support for Ranked-Choice voting in Georgia. (Some legislators did assert that in cases of non-partisan local/municipal races ranked choice might be acceptable.) Some local races in Georgia today do not require 50%+ majority for a win, but can be awarded on a simple “plurality” where the candidate receiving the most votes is elected.
Did a Fox already sneak Into the Hen House?
Very few Georgia voters know that Ranked-Choice has already been enacted and used in Georgia elections as a result of SB202. UOCAVA ballots (those used for overseas military and civilian voters) include ranked-choice voting. Legislators claim this was required as a result of a reduction in the time between General Election and a Runoff. Some officials have also say that Election Workers didn’t like being taken away from their families during the Holiday Season in order to prepare for Runoffs. More to the point, why was the discussion of Ranked Choice avoided so that only now are voters realizing that it is already in use?
Who uses Ranked-Choice?
Few Georgia voters understand the mechanism of “Ranked-Choice” voting, nor do they understand how few States have adopted it, especially for State and Federal elections.
Sometimes described as “Instant Runoff” voting, in Ranked-Choice voters are given a list of candidates for an office and asked to select their “First” choice, then “Second” choice, then “Third” choice and so on. Proponents state this ensures more voters voices are “heard.” But is that true?
Currently only two States have enacted Ranked-Choice voting for major State and Federal elections: Alaska and Maine.
Anchorage Daily News reported: “In 2020, the ballot initiative that put ranked choice voting in Alaska law was backed to the tune of millions by outside groups, including Unite America and FairVote Action Fund, which advocate for voting reform nationwide and are funded by deep-pocketed individuals from out-of-state.” In a review of Unite America, Opensecrets.org lists Kathryn Murdock and her organization Quadrivium in the top 5 donors with a total of $6.6 Million dollars. Quadrivium’s website details Ms. Murdock’s background which includes serving as Director of Strategy and Communications for the Clinton Climate Initiative from 2006 until 2011. The website further states that she currently serves on the boards of Unite America, the Climate Leadership Council and Climate Central. Ms Murdock is married to James Murdock, son of Rupert Murdock who founded the News Corp empire.
In its very first use, controversy surfaced as some candidates who seemed to do best in the first round ultimately lost when RCV was applied. Already, after a single use, calls to rescind RCV have surfaced in Alaska.
When is an Election More than a set of Individual Races?
A key consideration also emerges when one realizes that Ranked-Choice Voting may facilitate a shift in committee power. Committee leadership can often be a determining factor in whether vertain bills are approved or become forever mired in committee, never to reach a vote.
One Person, One Vote – But will it count and for Who?
Another concern is the complexity of considering multiple candidates and trying to “guess” who might be desirable if a first choice did not win outright. Some have likened it to ordering multiple meals in order at a restaurant, hoping that depending upon availability one would receive a meal they wished and enjoyed. Other note that filling out a Ranked-Choice ballot bears resemblance to a lotto-ticket.
Given the issues which surfaced following the 2020 Election which included missing, erased, and destroyed original ballots and/or original ballot images, one would expect voters to be concerned about HOW to audit an Election which uses Ranked Choice Voting. Election officials admit that in order to accurately audit an RCV election one would need access to ALL ballots since each ballot contains multiple selections any one of which might be counted only as a result of totaling all other ballots. This visibility seems a far cry from the cases of Individuals and Counties being blocked from even examining Election Ballots. In some cases County Officials have been threatened with lawsuits, criminal charges and/or fines for having the temerity to wish to review ballots to confirm election outcomes. It gives one pause to consider why such threats and measures would be used in a State whose Constitution calls for ballots which must be human readable and auditable.
Is there a quiet agenda?
Since the question of RCV surfaced, most of those in power have downplayed the support for, or chance of, such a change being made in Georgia elections. Is this the real picture or are we being pacified only to have measures enacted quietly outside public scrutiny just as UOCAVA RCV was done?
Stand a Watch
Recently The Heritage Foundation published an article entitled "Rank 'Ranked Choice Voting"'Dead Last for Georgia". In it, Hans A. von Spakovsky, a noted expert in election law, points out many of the issues detailed above and cautions "Ranked choice” really should be referred to as “rigged choice,” since it effectively disenfranchises voters and allows marginal candidates not supported by a majority of voters to win elections."
Georgia voters would be well advised to let their representatives know their wishes and concerns and that voters will be watching who votes for and against changes going forward.