South Dakota Bans Left-Favoring Ranked Choice Voting

By Bryan Jung
Bryan Jung
Bryan Jung
Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.
March 25, 2023Updated: March 25, 2023

South Dakota outlawed Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), which purportedly favors the left and works against conservative candidates.

Conservatives in the state legislature scored a major win on March 22 by becoming the first state this year to ban ranked choice voting in elections, with Idaho potentially following suit, reported The Federalist.

“Ranked-Choice Voting will never be part of South Dakota elections. I signed a bill to ban this process, and I signed 11 other bills to make our election laws the strongest in the nation,” said Republican governor Kristi Noem via Twitter.

Florida and Tennessee, in addition to South Dakota, have also banned the use of RCV in state elections in 2022.

In addition to Idaho, other states have also considered banning the controversial voting system, including Alaska, North DakotaTexasArizonaMaine, and Montana.

The new bill received overwhelming support in the state’s House of Representatives (63-5) and Senate (31-4).

Noem signed SB 55, which orders state’s board of elections “may not authorize” and political subdivisions “may not adopt or enforce” in any manner “a rule, resolution, charter provision, or ordinance establishing” a ranked-choice voting system.

“South Dakota’s election laws are built with integrity. We have one of the best election systems in the nation,” Noem said in a press statement.

With laws such as SB 55, “we will further strengthen our fantastic system and provide accountability for the future.”

Ranked Choice Voting System Causes Controversy

Election law critics have labeled RCV “rigged-choice voting.”

According to the system, if no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes in the first round of voting, the last-place finisher is eliminated, granting their votes to the voters’ second-ranked candidate.

This voting process continues until one candidate receives a majority of votes.

On RCV ballots, voters rank their options rather than choosing only one when using RCV ballots, which tends to boost leftist candidates and often leads to voter confusion and, sometimes, inaccurate election results.

Epoch Times Photo
As of late November 2022, 62 American jurisdictions have Ranked-choice voting (RCV) in place, reaching approximately 13 million voters, including two states, two counties, and 58 cities. Military and overseas voters cast RCV ballots in federal runoff elections in six states. (Courtesy of FairVote)

Unlikely Results

However, the state of Minnesota is now considering becoming the third state to adopt ranked choice voting, 15 years after Minneapolis became the first city in the state to switch to RCV.

St. Paul, Bloomington, St. Louis Park, and Minnetonka have since authorized RCV.

The North Star State has followed the lead of Alaska and Maine, which passed laws to enable RCV in recent years.

Since implementing RCV, voting results have produced outcomes that clearly contradict the desires of voters in those two states.

This system has kept unpopular politicians like the Alaskan Republican senator Lisa Murkowski in office. Murkowski was reelected despite a widespread dislike of her by a plurality of voters in the deep red state.

The system allowed Murkowski to beat Kelly Tshibaka during the 2022 midterms, as she was listed second on Alaska Democrats’ ranked-choice ballots.

Meanwhile, Alaskan Democrat Mary Peltola won the state’s at-large congressional seat during the same mid-terms, even though “nearly 60 percent of voters cast their ballots for a Republican,” the Federalist reported.

Another example was the then-incumbent GOP Maine congressman, Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who lost to Democrat Jared Golden during the 2018 midterms, despite Poliquin winning the most votes in the first round of voting.

All three outcomes were being blamed on the two states’ RCV system.

Epoch Times Photo
A file image of voters filling out and casting their ballots at the Cross Insurance Center polling location in Bangor, Maine for the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 3. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Nationwide Momentum to Ban RCV

Idaho Republicans are on the verge of banning RCV following the state Senate’s passage of HB 179 on March 22 with a 28-7 vote.

The proposed legislation was already passed by the state House of Representatives (56-12-2) earlier this month and will soon head to Republican Gov. Brad Little’s office for signature.

A grassroots organization called Alaskans for Honest Elections, a statewide signature-collecting effort to put an initiative on the 2024 ballot to repeal Alaska’s (RCV) system, which was narrowly adopted as Ballot Measure 2 in 2020.

Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom certified the group’s petition application to repeal RCV in January, allowing them to collect signatures from voters across the state.

At least 27,000 valid signatures must be collected before a repeal initiative can appear on a statewide ballot for the 2024 presidential elections.

Republican lawmakers in the Alaska legislature are also attempting to repeal the RCV system with new legislation.

State Senator Mike Shower introduced SB 2 in the Alaska State Senate to repeal the controversial RCV rules and return to the traditional closed primary system.

This will only allow voters registered with a particular political party to be able to vote for a candidate or incumbent in that party’s primary.

A companion bill to SB 2 (known as HB 1) has been introduced in Alaska’a House of Representatives by Republican state representatives George Rauscher, Kevin McCabe, and Sarah Vance.