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Opinion: Ranked choice voting wrong for Missouri

Yet again, an out-of-state interest group funded by liberal money has come into our state and is using a process that is supposed to be citizen-led — the initiative petition process — to instead try to force Missouri to adopt a law that would hurt our state: ranked choice voting.

Ranked choice voting is designed specifically to reduce the impact of political parties’ core supporters and benefit moderate candidates who do not accurately reflect party views but have broad across-the-aisle appeal. For a state like Missouri that is voting more conservative every election cycle, this means we would not get candidates who truly reflect the will of the people. Instead of true conservatives who pursue innovative policies in line with our state’s ideals, we would get middle-of-the-road, do-nothing candidates who win solely because of their blandness, matched up against similarly-bland Democrats who would not reflect that party’s remarkable turn toward the radical left.

Rep. Nick Schroer

Ranked choice voting is also prone to producing unexpected outcomes. In 2018, Democrat Jared Golden was sent to Congress to represent Maine and declared the victor over incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin, despite Poliquin receiving more votes. Because neither candidate received 50 percent of votes in the first round, the votes received by third-party candidates were redistributed to voters’ lower-ranked choices, giving Golden the win without him receiving even a plurality of first-choice votes.

Voter confusion is also a serious problem that can produce outcomes 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 only reflects a small segment of voters. For example, in a Board of Supervisors race in San Francisco in 2010, the winner received 4,321 votes, but 9,608 ballots cast had been thrown out due to “exhaustion” — they included votes only for candidates who had not made it through previous rounds of ballot counting and were thus not included in future counts. This means a candidate won the election despite more than twice as many people specifically casting votes against them.  

I do not think anybody can argue that a result like this reasonably reflects the will of the people, and I fear something similar could happen in Missouri if the ranked choice voting petition passes.

Supporters of ranked choice voting point to Republican domination of Missouri’s elections as a reason to adopt the system, reasoning that “more competition” automatically means better choices for voters. However, this ignores the fundamental reason that Republicans are winning here — we more accurately reflect the ideals of Missourians, while the Democratic Party has drifted further to the left. For the past several 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 appear to be at a loss to explain why they cannot win elections. If Democrats want to be competitive, they need to take a close look at what the people of Missouri really want, not leverage out-of-state interest group money to game the system in their favor.