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Ranked-Choice = Voter Suppression

As we move closer to the upcoming primary and the Secretary of State works on an incredibly short timetable to overhaul a big part of Maine’s election system, we wanted to give you an update on last week’s message about election security along with some new information to think about. 

That update is in the “P.S.” section at the end of this email, but we want to discuss another Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) matter first.

How many times have liberal Democrats accused Republicans of trying to suppress the vote among low-income and minority voters? I remember more than I could probably count!

But did you know the ACLU of Kansas refused to support RCV in their state because it suppresses voter turnout and increases voting errors and spoiled ballots, which also suppresses votes?

Well they did.

In addition, here are some other facts for you to consider as RCV supporters continue to fight in the courts and Legislature to force this system on us:

– In one of Minneapolis, Minnesota’s early RCV elections almost 10% of ranked-choice ballots were not even counted, but were thrown out as spoiled or for voter error. The error rate alone was about 6.5%. 
(Hamline University, David Schultz; Minnesota Post)

– In another Minneapolis election, almost 1,400 of the 100,000 votes were deemed invalid. If there were any other policy that could invalidate 1,400 votes in Maine, our counterparts would be screaming about voter suppression, at least if they could blame it on us. 
(Post Bulletin, Aaron Miller)

– In the 2017 Minneapolis Mayoral election, nearly 23,000 of the 105,000 ballots were considered “exhausted” and removed from counting before a winner was declared. Ultimately, the winner did not even have the “majority” support ranked choice voting supporters promise Mainers will occur under
RCV here. He had less than 45%, but 23,000 ballots did not get calculated into the final round of voting. 
(Official 2017 Minneapolis, MN Mayoral election results)

So there you have it – while our counterparts often “talk” about voter suppression, the ACLU and the actual data from one of the leading RCV cities show how many people’s ballots just don’t count under RCV.

Whether it is the 8% drop in turnout, 10% rate of spoiled and error ballots, or the many tens of thousands of ballots that could get thrown out in multiple rounds of voting in Maine, one thing is now crystal clear. Ranked-choice voting advocates have put Maine voters in a bad spot if this system
goes into effect, even for just one election.

Sincerely,

Jason Savage
Executive Director
Maine Republican Party

P.S. UPDATE: After our message last week, the Secretary of State’s office reached out to let us know that they plan on using a high speed counting machine hard-wired to a computer to count ballots in Augusta. For additional rounds of RCV voting The equipment has not been leased yet, and our concerns around the system being federally certified can’t be answered yet.

However, as long as they move forward with a closed system, our concerns that Maine would see our elections determined by a vulnerable web-based RCV counting system are alleviated. We still must continue demanding the system be as secure as possible. And we still reject the idea that we should be
stuck with a system that takes control away from local election officials.

Additionally, we learned that RCV will require the Secretary of State to send state police or other authorities to collect every ballot cast from every polling location in the state in the event that a second round of voting is needed for a statewide election, which is very likely.

That’s right – you can pretty much guarantee that RCV will force our law enforcement off their regular duties around the state to deliver ballots – make no mistake, this is necessary to keep the election secure, but it is unfortunate that RCV supporters put us in this position.

All that said, we are happy the Secretary of State is taking our concerns seriously. We’ll keep you updated on future developments.

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