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Opinion: Conservatives almost lost a Missouri US Senate seat. We can stop that from ever happening again.

In June 2022, many Missouri conservatives were starting to worry.

Despite 65% of Republican primary voters opposing him, Eric Greitens was on track to win the GOP nomination with 35% of the vote—again. Like with Saundra McDowell in 2018, vote-splitting in a crowded field was poised to nominate a weak candidate, with major political liabilities. Another unforced error could create a disastrous general election.

Adding to that summer anxiety: Conservative independent candidate John Wood loomed in the general election. It was shaping up like the 2012 Secretary of State’s race, when Republican Shane Schoeller and Libertarian and Constitution party candidates split a majority of the vote, handing the office to the Democrat.

This isn’t Republicans’ fault. It’s a broken system.

The will of Missouri’s majority is at risk, but there’s a simple solution we already use for school board elections across our state. Conservatives have been winning with it, because it reflects the will of the people.

In Missouri’s school board races, we vote for multiple candidates. The candidates with the most votes win.

A similar system could be used in primary elections. If you like multiple candidates in the primary—like Eric Schmitt and Vicky Hartzler; or Peter Kinder, Catherine Hanaway, and John Brunner—why should you be limited to voting for one? You should be allowed to vote for multiple candidates you like, just as you do for school board. Pick all you like. The candidate with the most votes wins on Election Night, just as they always do.

No ranking. No delayed results. Just old-fashioned voting.

The US Constitution does NOT limit Americans to voting for only one candidate. It gives states the right to decide. The “pick one” limit on our freedom is an accidental bug, not a deliberate feature. Fixing this problem will protect the will of Missouri’s majority. Let’s give Republican primary voters the freedom to vote for any candidates they support, instead of only one. It will stop the vote-splitting and ensure the strongest nominee emerges.

It’s not a new idea. It’s tried and true.

Fargo, North Dakota, expanded this freedom beyond school boards. Before adopting School Board-Style approval voting, Fargo’s city council candidates often won crowded elections with 20% of the vote. This is not how America’s Founders intended a Republic to work. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that government depends upon “the consent of the governed.” Do you have the consent of the governed when 65% vote for someone else? “Pick-one” voting hurts the mandate to govern: when the vote has been split, nominees have less political capital to advance their agenda. Now Fargo’s leaders are elected with broad support.

Some Missouri politicos are talking about implementing “runoffs”—including “ranked choice voting,” which is just an instant runoff—if no one gets over 50%.

But runoffs do NOT stop vote-splitting. In Chicago’s runoff system for mayor, two leftist candidates advanced to the runoff with only 18% and 16% of the vote, respectively. In a crowded field, strong candidates can still split the vote and fail to make the runoff, advancing weaker candidates. With instant runoff voting in Alaska, Republicans and Libertarians split a majority, letting a Democrat win.

A statewide primary runoff would cost $7 million and suck up more Republican campaign money before the general election even begins. Runoffs also take extra time to find out the winner. Spending $7 million in taxpayer money on bad policy is NOT a conservative solution.

School Board-Style elections are the simple, free, and obvious solution to nominate strong candidates and protect the will of the majority. Republican primary voters can choose multiple candidates they truly support, eliminating vote splitting. (This also reduces the power of Democratic meddling in crowded GOP primaries.) Whoever gets the most votes still wins. Republicans win when good candidates can reach the general election.

Article I of the Missouri Constitution states “that all government of right originates from the people, [and] is founded upon their will only.” The legislature can protect the will of Missouri’s majority in 2024 by passing a statute expanding Missourians’ freedom to vote for all the candidates we want. Then allow voters to enshrine this freedom in our Constitution. It’s time to eliminate accidental, unnecessary regulations on our liberty.

When we see a problem, the answer is usually more freedom. This is no exception. Let voters express their true beliefs with School Board-Style elections, and let freedom ring across Missouri as we protect the will of our majority.