State Legislators Say Ranked Choice Voting Will Only Cause Problems If Implemented in Arizona

Woman voting at booth

The Arizona Freedom Caucus (AFC) released a statement Tuesday, allowing several members to speak out against Ranked Choice Voting (RVC) in Arizona and promote two bills that would prohibit it in the state.

“RCV may not always result in the candidate with the most first-choice votes winning the election,” said AFC Member State Senator Anthony Kern (R-Glendale). “I am aware that there are groups in Arizona advocating for RCV, but this will only lead to chaos, and we must ensure that our constituents have easy and fair access to the ballot box.”

The Arizona Sun Times reported that Kern sponsored Senate Bill (SB) 1265, which passed through the Senate Elections committee in February. The bill states that the only way to be declared the winner of an election in Arizona is by receiving the highest number of legal votes. Additionally, neither the state nor its municipalities may utilize voting methods allowing constituents to rank or eliminate a candidate for office.

SB 1265 passed the Senate floor at the end of February. While State Senator Juan Mendez (D-Tempe) argued that RCV is not something Arizonans should be afraid of and that the bill is unnecessary, it still passed along party lines.

“We don’t want to muddy the waters, and if anything, we should be moving to restore our election integrity,” Kern said in defense of his bill.

Moreover, one of SB 1265’s co-sponsors, State Senator Justine Wadsack (R-Tucson), a fellow AFC member, also spoke out about RCV, stating it would likely disenfranchise voters if implemented.

“Ranked Choice Voting disenfranchises voters through its unnecessary complexity and ‘exhausted ballots’ scheme, which results in the silencing of significant portions of the electorate,” said Wadsack. “Exhausted ballots are those that do not rank any continuing candidate, contain an overvote at the highest continuing ranking, or contain two or more sequential skipped rankings before its highest continuing ranking.”

After the bill passed the Senate, it received a second hearing in the House on March 8th. It will need a third hearing before it can move on to the governor’s desk.

Furthermore, the House has its anti-RCV bill, HB 2552, from State Representative Austin Smith (R-Surprise). The bill outlined the same prohibitions as Kern’s and passed the House Floor in March. Like in the Senate, HB 2552 only received Republican partisan support.

“Arizona—Maricopa County specifically—already has a bad record of voter tabulation and counting process. Between voter confusion, high rates of ballot exhaustion and the difficulty of tabulating the results, RCV increases voter disenfranchisement, distrust in the process and deters candidates from taking stances on issues important to every Arizonan. The bottom line is RCV is a scam that destroys integrity in elections,” Smith said in a statement emailed to The Sun Times.

Smith’s bill has moved to the Senate and received a second reading on March 7th. Its next scheduled appearance is before the Senate Elections committee on March 20th.

“The Arizona Freedom Caucus formally supports the passage of HB 2552 and SB 1265,” according to the statements from the legislators.

RCV has voters rank all candidates running for office in order from most to least wanted. Whichever candidate receives a majority of the “most wanted” votes is declared the winner. However, it becomes more complicated if one candidate does not have the majority. If a winner is not decided, the candidate who received the least “most wanted” votes is eliminated from the race. Everyone who voted for that candidate has their “most wanted” vote reassigned to their second choice, and the process continues until one candidate has the majority.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “People Voting” by Wyofile Wyofile. CC BY 2.0.



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