Election Reforms can— PROTECT Democracy . . . and the Republic
Commentary: Ranked-Choice Voting can assist to Protect Democracy’s Future
So, why is Senate Bill 137 aimed at banning RCV
by DemocracyIssues.com, an Ohio-based Voter Rights initiative
A small group of Ohio politicians is leading an anti-democratic effort that continues to take away voting rights of targeted segments of citizens in order to increase their own power and control of State government.
This is another effort from these anti-democratic politicians that follows their failed attempt to grab more power by deceiving voters about the real purpose of Issue 1 that was on the August 2023 ballot.
These Politicians have now introduced Senate Bill 137 that is aimed at banning Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) in the State.
With all of the issues facing Ohio citizens, how can banning a pro-democracy voting reform be a priority for the State’s Legislature?
Ranked-Choice Voting is Pro-Democracy, Majority Rule
To win an election, Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) requires a candidate to have broader voter appeal in order to obtain a majority of the total votes cast. https://www.rankthevoteohio.org
With the current Plurality system and multiple candidates in a contest, an election can be won with far less than the majority of the votes, since in a Plurality contest it only takes the most votes to win.
In an RCV contest, instead of voting for one candidate, voters have more choices, and simply rank their top selections. For example, even if a voter’s favorite candidate does not win, their 2nd choice may be victorious.
How RCV Works
If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the first tabulation round, the candidate in last place is eliminated. Then, in any tabulation round that follows, the 2nd choice votes that were cast by an eliminated candidate’s supporters are distributed to the remaining contenders until one candidate obtains a majority.
With Ranked-Choice voting, candidates are more civil and respective of each other as they need their opponents’ supporters to rank them high in their selections.
Vote Splitting Results in Minority Rule
Primary contests for each political party can have a large number of candidates running. With a large number of candidates splitting the votes, it takes less votes and a lower percentage of the total to win. A candidate can win a crowded primary field with less than 40%, or even far less than 30% of the total votes cast.
Vote Splitting can Favor Extremist Politicians
According to The Center for Election Sciences, for elections involving seats to the U.S. House of Representatives from 2010 thru 2020, “Out of the 427 new members who won primary challenges . . . 38% . . . earned less than 40% of ballots cast.”
Data provided by Rank the Vote provides important insight into this issue. On January 6, 2021 in the U.S. Congress, the infamous vote was conducted to overturn the results of a fair presidential election. Eighty-one (81) of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted against certifying a fair election had each entered Congress by winning their primary election with less than a majority of the votes cast. And sixty two (62) of these House of Representative members won their primary election with less than 40% of the votes cast.
Thus, well over 60% of the voters in the election districts of these members of the U.S House of Representatives voted against each of these 62 individuals.
Extremist Politicians use Vote Splitting in Gerrymandered Districts
In gerrymandered districts, when there is a large field of primary candidates with similar views, an aggressive and extremist politician is able to stand out. And with a crowded field of candidates splitting the votes, a primary election can be won by an extremist politician favoring autocratic laws and policies that stands out from the field and who only needs to obtain a relatively low percentage of voter support.
As a result of the increase in gerrymandering, the number of districts where the majority political party has dominant control have significantly expanded during the past decade. Candidates in the minority party have little chance of winning the general election in a gerrymandered district that has been intentionally structured through wrongful map drawing to insure the majority party’s victory.
As the example above involving the 62 U.S. House of Representative members confirms, there have been many anti-democratic, extremist politicians who have used the deliberate strategy to run in a crowded primary election field in a district that has been gerrymandered by the majority party. They know that winning the majority party’s primary election, even with a low percentage of the total votes cast, almost always guarantees winning the general election.
Voting Reforms will Thwart Anti-Democratic, Extremist Politicians
Current efforts with Senate Bill 137 by anti-democratic, extremist politicians in the Ohio Legislature aimed at banning Ranked-Choice Voting are designed to limit the power and choices of Ohio voters and to retain gerrymandered election districts.
Voting reforms that end gerrymandering, such as an Ohio Independent Redistricting Commission (that is planned on the ballot in November, 2024), will force anti-democratic, extremist politicians to run in districts where the outcome of the general election is not predetermined. They will no longer benefit from rigged election district maps that insure victory by the political party that drew the map.
And voting reforms such as Ranked-Choice Voting (that favor candidates with broader voter appeal) will combine with reforms to end gerrymandered election districts that will both assist to Protect Democracy’s Future.