Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 14, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — While the focus has been on the left’s drive to kill the Electoral College, some so-called moderates are joining Democrats in another initiative that could weaken American representative democracy.
It’s called ranked choice voting (RCV), and it is being sold as salvation to a “broken” election system.
In ranked choice voting, voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate receives a majority of first-preference votes, that candidate wins. If a majority is not reached, a winnowing process begins based on second-choice preferences. The process continues until a candidate receives a majority of votes.
But there are some obvious problems with the ranking system, what Hans von Spakovsky, elections expert at the Heritage Foundation, calls a power “scheme.” RCV, otherwise known as “Instant Runoff Voting,” disconnects elections from issues — what elections are ultimately all about, von Spakovsky said. And they allow candidates with marginal support to win elections.
In others words, your “third choice” maybe someone you never intended to vote for, someone who in very few ways represents your values. Well, sorry. You may be stuck with Option C under ranked choice voting.
It’s kind of like how high school students select their prom queen.
“In the end, it is all about political power, not about what is best for the American people and for preserving our great republic,” von Spakovsky wrote in a piece for the Heritage Foundation.
Some liberals aren’t crazy about the idea, either.
Former California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who has embraced about every socialist idea under the sun, in 2016 vetoed a bill to expand ranked choice voting in the Golden State. Brown described the system as “overly complicated and confusing” and that it “deprives voters of genuinely informed choice.”
The Heritage Foundation asserts that the voting scheme “would present many opportunities to rig the electoral system.”
It notes a 2015 study that reviewed 600,000 votes cast using ranked choice voting in four local elections in Washington State and California. The study found that “the winner all four elections receive[d] less than a majority of the total votes cast.”
There is a movement afoot to bring ranked choice voting to Wisconsin. We hear the idea is being pitched to Democrats and Republicans alike as a moderating force for a deeply divided electorate.
That’s the point, according to political scientist Larry Diamond, who argues RCV “forces candidates to try to appeal to a broader cross-section of the public. He said it “makes it much more likely that the winner will be open to moderation, compromise, and building government coalitions. ”
For those fatigued by political mud and legislative gridlock, the Siren song of ranked choice voting is real. But think a little more deeply. Moderation and compromise squeeze out principles. Does the average fiscal and social conservative, for instance, want to build a coalition with fiscal and social liberals?
At least 18 U.S. cities and the state of Maine have adopted the voting system.
Now, Democrats in congress are pushing the national Ranked Choice Voting Act. The bill requires states to adopt the voting system in primary and general elections for congress beginning in 2022.
“Our politics is broken in different ways,” U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) told Fox News. “The Electoral College is dysfunctional and out-of-date. It’s given us two popular-vote losers in the last five elections. We need to reform that.”
It’s not broken yet, but if liberals have their way it will be in the coming years.