More ranked-choice voting bans considered in 2023 legislative sessions than previous years

State legislatures are considering a similar number of bills related to ranked-choice voting in 2023 sessions as they did last year, but the number of measures prohibiting or banning RCV has nearly doubled.  

So far this year, South Dakota and Idaho have enacted such prohibitions, joining Florida and Tennessee who became the first states to do so last year. All four states had Republican trifectas when these laws were adopted. Similar Republican-sponsored bills have passed at least one chamber of the legislature in their state so far in 2023: Arizona’s HB2552, Montana’s HB598, North Dakota’s HB1273, and Texas’ SB921. On April 6, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) vetoed that state’s prospective ban. Elsewhere this year, Republican lawmakers in both Alaska and Maine, where ranked-choice voting has been implemented for some federal and state-level elections through statewide ballot measures, have introduced legislation that would repeal their state’s current use of the voting system. 

Ranked-choice voting is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the next-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.

Municipalities in Florida and Tennessee had authorized, but not used, ranked-choice voting when those states banned the system. Idaho and South Dakota, on the other hand, were two of 33 states where ranked-choice voting was not authorized or used in any form (excluding presidential primaries). 

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed H0179 into law on March 24, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed SB55 on March 27. Idaho’s ranked-choice voting ban received one Democratic vote in the state House. South Dakota’s received two, also in the state House.

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