(The Center Square) – An Alaska state senator told the Oklahoma Elections and Ethics Committee Tuesday that ranked-choice voting would lower voter turnout and disproportionately disenfranchise vulnerable voters.
The committee took a “deep dive” into both sides of the issue as part of an interim study looking into the details and different types of ranked-choice voting.
Most of the people who spoke to the committee are against it.
“It is not best for the people you represent. It makes it harder for them. It will make them not want to vote,” said Alaska Sen. Mike Shower, R-Juneau.
Alaska is one of only two states that have instituted ranked choice voting statewide. The other one is Maine. Shower joined the meeting to share how Alaska has fared since.
“It is not a system you want in Oklahoma. And the other states looking at this and basically banning it, I think they’re on the right path before they lose their state,” said Shower.
Florida, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Idaho are among the states that have banned ranked-choice voting. There are currently movements in both Alaska and Maine to repeal it.
Shower told the committee that polling shows if Alaska held a vote today to repeal rank choice voting, it would pass.
“The voter populace in Alaska does not like this system. They feel it was sold to them on a lie,” said Shower.
President of Capital Research Center Scott Walter said their research shows while groups might appear to be local grassroots movements supporting rank choice voting, many are connected to one left-leaning D.C.-based group called Arabella Advisors.
“No one should imagine that ranked choice voting is something that simply sprung up from the grassroots of conservatives or republicans,” said Walter. “It is very much driven by left-wing, Democrat-aligned donors and activist groups.”
Cindy Alexander with Rank the Vote Oklahoma favors the ranked-choice voting process. She said the cons of the current system include non-majority winners, runoff elections costing taxpayers more money, and strategic voting, where the voter uses assumptions about the likely outcome instead of sincere preference.
However, Trent England, executive director of Save Our States, told the committee that academic literature showed it was not true that ranked-choice voting ensures majority winners.
“They find that very infrequently do you have a majority winner,” England said.
England said ranked-choice voting is not new and was first developed in the 1850s.
“Most of the places this was pushed it sort of fell flat,” England said. “They did get some American cities to adopt it early in the twentieth century roughly a hundred years ago. Every single one of those cities used it for a time, some just in one or two election cycles, and then repealed it. The reason you haven’t heard of this is because people tried it, didn’t like it, and got rid of it a hundred years ago.”