Nevadans may be asked to approve ‘Ranked-Choice’ voting

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 5:18 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - This year in particular, voters registered as non-partisan and with a minor party weren’t able to vote much in the primary election last month here in Nevada.

But a group called “Nevadans for Election Reform” says it wants to change that. The group is part of a coalition that is sponsored by a PAC called “Nevada Voters First.”

“Ranked-Choice” voting they say will allow everyone to vote and place the most viable candidates on the November ballot. They say that’s because non-partisan and third-party voters will have their say.

And their say here in Nevada is significant.

“The non-partisan and minor party voters are the largest voting bloc in the state,” says Doug Goodman, Executive Director of Nevadans for Election Reform.

Goodman says under his group’s system, a maximum of 5 candidates will make their way out of the open primary into the general election.

At which point voters will rank their choices from first to last. If the first-place candidate does not get 50 plus one percent of the vote, the candidate receiving the fewest first-place votes will be dropped.

“It looks at who did you give your second choice to?” says Goodman. “Your vote is now assigned to that candidate. Your vote is still counting. You are getting your choice counted. And then the tabulation repeats. Does the candidate now have 50-percent plus one of the vote now? Yes. The election is done. No. The process repeats. If one of your candidates is eliminated, it looks at your next choice,” he says.

Goodman says such a system will mean less contentious negative elections. Winning candidates will be more likely to work together. He says current voting machines can be modified so “Ranked Choice” voting can be tabulated.

Under the ballot question, “Ranked-Choice” voting would apply only to federal, constitutional, and state elections in Nevada.

If the required number of signatures on the petition is approved by the Secretary of State’s office the question will appear on the ballot. “Ranked-Choice” would need to be approved twice by the voters as it asks to change the state constitution to allow for such a system. In 2025 Nevada’s Legislature will take the new system and plug it into state statute.

“Is it going to be a net benefit to the voters?” asks TMCC Political Science Professor Fred Lokken.

He says if the question makes it on the ballot, there will be plenty of opposition. That’s because the system, if approved, would change the two-party makeup of elections in Nevada.

“The process is a party process, and the party has chosen this method to bring more people in the process in making the decision,” says Lokken. “Anything that abandons that undermines the two-party system dramatically. And for those who want this want to dismantle the two-party process, but have no system to replace it,” he says.

Goodman says his group is ready to defend the “Ranked Choice” system but also understands it will take educating the voter to get the ballot question passed.

Historically, if the voter doesn’t understand a ballot question it’s a “no” vote.

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