In response to Chuck Gray’s Jan. 18 editorial in the Casper Star-Tribune, let’s explore the concerns (some would say myths) he identified as related to ranked choice voting (RCV).
1) Voter confusion using RCV. First, do this. List your top three favorite cookies in order of preference. Now, ask yourself, was that hard to do? That is RCV in a nutshell.
A poll from Alaskans for Better Elections found 92% of Alaskans that voted in 2022’s RCV election reported receiving instructions on how to rank their choices. Seventy-nine percent reported RCV to be “simple”. Objective polls show RCV voters both like and understand the RCV system.
2) Ballot exhaustion. Gray points out that “should a voter fail to choose not to rank candidates beyond their first choice, their ballot would be thrown out altogether through later tabulations” and be considered an “exhausted ballot.” Using traditional voting methods, every ballot is exhausted after the first count and no voters have input into who they would prefer of the candidates who did not win with at least 51% of the vote that day. RCV offers each voter a second and third choice should their favorite candidate not win at 51% on the first vote.
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3) RCV elections take too long. RCV does a very good job of electing the candidate who is approved of by the majority of voters, whether as a first choice or as someone they would prefer over another candidate. This goal is very important to voters. To accomplish this, there may be several tabulations, each taking time to complete. However, the result is worth the wait. To get a similar result, Gray favors runoff elections over RCV, but runoffs take months rather than weeks to complete and they double the cost since two elections, months apart, would be required.
Choosing to do what we’ve always done doesn’t fix the problems voters identify. Our secretary of state needs to look closer at ranked choice voting. Our legislators are right to do the same.