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Ban on ranked-choice voting approved by Senate committee

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(The Center Square) – Ranked-choice voting, ballot harvesting and other election bills were approved on Wednesday by the Louisiana Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs.

Several bills were reported favorably by the committee.

One would ban AI-generated deepfake images in campaigns. Another would mandate only an immediate family member of the voter shall act as a witness for an absentee ballot. A third measure would allow a state officeholder to run for their present office if they were a candidate to be president or vice president.

Senate Bill 101, authored by state Sen. Blake Miguez, R-New Iberia, would ban the practice of ranked-choice voting, also known as an instant runoff. Voters in that system would be required to rank candidates by preference on their ballots.

Election officials then count the ballots in rounds, eliminating candidates who receive smaller numbers of votes. A voter who casts a ballot for that candidate has their vote for their second choice counted and on until one candidate earns a majority of votes.

“The biggest concern with ranked-choice voting is that the ballots are pretty much trash consistently in every ranked-choice election,” Miguez said. “Voters are given an ultimatum: Either vote for the person you dislike or whom you oppose their principles or risk your ballot being trash. They have no way of knowing if their vote counted in the election.”

Miguez cited the Maine’s 2018 2nd Congressional District race, which he said resulted in 8,000 trashed ballots, and an at-large congressional race in Alaska in 2022 with 15,000 trashed ballots. Also noted were local elections in New York City.

“That’s just un-American,” Miguez said. “Remember, it’s one person, one vote. It makes the process very complicated.”

He also said it leads to longer, more confusing ballots and delays on election night as votes are tabulated.

Secretary of State Nancy Landry also spoke for the bill, which is part of her election integrity package of legislation. She described this system as “cumbersome and convoluted.” She cited the 2016 election in East Baton Rouge Parish with five races and 58 candidates.

“So imagine if you had to rank all of those,” Landry said.

The practice would remain legal for Louisiana members of the U.S. Armed Forces voting absentee overseas.

Florida, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Tennessee have banned the practice.

Two bills that would redraw the state’s Supreme Court districts as required by a court order, SB381 and SB193, were also approved by the committee and will be headed to the Senate floor for debate and a possible vote.

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