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Ranked Choice Voting has the sheen of fairness to it, but to conservatives, it screams 'bullshit liberal scam.'

Ranked Choice Ballot Initiative Fails

Democrat-backed election groups fail to gather sufficient signatures

By Steve Kirwan, December 18, 2023 8:16 am

Democrat-based election reform groups Better Ballot Arizona and, to a lesser extent, Voter Choice Arizona and Make Elections Fair failed to qualify ballot initiatives allowing ranked-choice elections. Sometimes called Incombant Welfare and Democrat Welfare election plans, ranked choice balloting enables voters to select first-choice through third or even fifth-choice candidates, effectively splitting their votes among multiple candidates.

This type of ballot tends to favor incumbents, as it did in Alaska’s 2020 US Senate race that re-elected moderate Republican incumbent Senator Murkowski over her popular conservative Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka. Tshibaka, who held a several-point advantage over Murkowski in polling, was defeated due to Democrats being allowed to vote using ranked choice. It allowed them to vote first for the Democrat challenger and then for a second choice, in this case, the more moderate Murkowski.

Election traditionalists see this as a way to let the opposing party voters cast protest votes against challengers, particularly those with more controversial views. And that is precisely why these groups push for it so hard in Arizona. Next year’s election is shaping into a close slugfest, and ranked-choice would allow the protest voters to wield greater power.

However, the failure to qualify hasn’t dissuaded these groups from challenging more traditional voting initiatives floated by conservative groups. Shifting its focus to defense, they are vowing to fight against two popular ballot initiatives, one that would codify partisan primaries, preempting ranked-choice voting or open primaries, and the other tightening requirements for signature gathering to put questions on the ballot.

Gilbert resident Blake Sacha, former chair of Better Ballot Arizona and current president of its affiliated nonprofit, Voter Choice Arizona, believes they are bad for Arizona. He stated, “We think that both of those would be very, very bad for the future of election reform. So we believe that the best thing we can do is to, in 2024, work on defeating those two initiatives while we continue educating people on the necessity of the election system reforms that we believe are critical.”

A separate effort by the more bipartisan group Make Elections Fair Arizona Act seeks to create open primaries that allow all voters, regardless of party, to vote for any candidate. Their proposal would make the state Legislature and Governor develop a system for the general election to determine how many candidates should appear on that ballot.

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