Opinion: Poor-voting ranked choice for Missouri

Again, an outside interest group funded by liberal money has entered our state and is using a supposedly citizen-led process – the initiative petition process – to try instead to force Missouri to pass a law that would harm our state: preferential voting.

Preferential Voting is designed specifically to reduce the impact of mainstream political party supporters and benefit moderate candidates who do not accurately reflect party views but have broad appeal in the aisle. For a state like Missouri that votes more conservative every election cycle, that means we wouldn’t have candidates who truly reflect the will of the people. Instead of true conservatives who pursue innovative policies consistent with our state’s ideals, we would have middle-of-the-road, inactive candidates who win solely because of their blandness, facing off against equally bland Democrats who fail to reflect that remarkable party turn toward the radical left.

Representative Nick Schroer

Preferential choice voting is also likely to produce unexpected results. In 2018, Democrat Jared Golden was sent to Congress to represent Maine and declared Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin the winner, despite Poliquin receives more votes. Because none of the candidates received 50% of the vote in the first round, the votes received by the third-party candidates were redistributed to the choices of the lowest ranked voters, giving Golden the victory without him even receiving a plurality of first choice votes.

Voter confusion is also a serious problem that can produce results that do not reflect the political will of the electorate. Many voters do not rank other choices, which can result in individuals receiving a “majority” of votes that reflects only a small segment of voters. For example, during a board of supervisors race in San Francisco in 2010, the winner received 4,321 votes, but 9,608 ballots were discarded due to “exhaustion” — they only included the votes of candidates who had not passed the previous ballots and were therefore not included in the next counts. This means that a candidate won the election despite more than twice as many people specifically voting against them.

I don’t think anyone can say that an outcome like this reasonably reflects the will of the people, and I’m afraid something similar could happen in Missouri if the preferential-choice ballot petition passes.

Proponents of ranked-choice voting cite Republican dominance in Missouri elections as a reason to adopt the system, believing that “more competition” automatically means better choices for voters. However, that ignores the fundamental reason Republicans are winning here — we more closely reflect the ideals of Missourians, while the Democratic Party has drifted farther left. In recent election cycles, their slate of candidates has expressed ideologies more reminiscent of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Bernie Sanders than Jay Nixon or Chris Koster, and yet they seem unable to explain why they can’t win the election. If Democrats want to be competitive, they need to take a hard look at what Missourians really want, not leverage money from out-of-state interest groups to game the system in their favor.

About Maria Hunter

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