Romper Room and Ranked Choice Voting
Romper Room and a Primer on Ranked Choice Voting (“RCV”)
By Stacey Sauter
(This is the first article in a periodic series to be explored on this topic)
Does anyone out there remember the nationally-syndicated TV show Romper Room? I certainly do. And if I could momentarily borrow Miss Nancy’s “Magic Mirror” and ask which one of you “Do Bees” fully understands “ranked choice voting,” I imagine the hands I’d immediately see popping up are among voters in the People’s Republic of Takoma Park – presently the only jurisdiction in Maryland to use it. Is it any surprise that Takoma Park’s favorite son, socialist County Executive Marc Elrich and his merry band of Democrat Do Bees, are pushing our state legislature to adopt RCV, or alternatively an “approval method” of voting throughout Montgomery County?
It’s a fact, and they are, via House Bill 344.
According to the bill’s text, ‘“Ranked Choice Voting’ means a method of casting and tabulating votes in which voters rank candidates in order of preference and votes are tabulated in a manner that reflects voter preference.” And “‘Approval Voting’ means a method of casting and tabulating votes in which voters may choose any number of candidates and the candidate chosen most often is elected.”
Got it? Oh my. I can see in the Magic Mirror many of you are shaking your heads “no.” As well you should. RCV and approval voting are complex, confusing, and cost-adding systems that if adopted would replace our plurality voting system, aka the “first-past-the-post” is the winner. In this well-established system, voters can easily understand that the candidate getting the most votes in a single race wins. RCV abolishes this formula by asking voters to rank their top-three preferred candidates in a particular race. If any of them fail to get a majority (50%+), then according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Votes [are then] counted in rounds using a series of runoff tabulations to eliminate candidates with the fewest votes, with a winner only selected once a candidate receives a majority of votes in a single winner contest.” And in approval voting, voters can vote, or “approve” of as many candidates as they wish. Sounds to me a little like “woke voting” or the “nobody gets their feelings hurt” casting of ballots.
There are multiple reasons why Republicans should oppose this. First, consider this: the Democrats’ latest battle cry is that our very democracy is under grave threat, and RCV is a way of protecting it. Spare me. Of the very limited number of states and/or jurisdictions nationwide using RCV, the vast majority are Democrat-controlled (San Francisco was one of the first cities in the U.S. to implement it. What does that tell you?) Whoever controls the process also tends to control the outcome. And when in power, Democrats love nothing more than shredding time-honored practices to their advantage. The fact that Democrats hold a supermajority throughout Montgomery County and in our state legislature is reason alone to believe that RCV will not help Republicans in any way, shape, or form. Secondly, if even it were a fair playing field, Republicans are mostly ignored or disparaged by the media. Therefore, even if the Republican contenders are well-qualified, many will be swiftly eliminated in this system based on their negative and/or low priority media coverage – especially against well-entrenched Democrat incumbents. And last but not least, a financial analysis of HB 344 by the Maryland General Assembly’s Department of Legislative Services, states that ranked choice or approval voting will cost the state more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars to implement in MOCO, with the county incurring approximately $1.2 million more in additional election costs. In short, it will cost us a whole bunch and hurt us a whole lot.
When asked his thoughts about RCV, GOP Montgomery County Chairman Del Lamiman quickly stated, “If the Democrats like ranked choice voting, let them use it in their primary and we’ll see how it goes. But they can leave us alone.”
This bill is being heard by the House Ways and Means Committee in Annapolis. If you are interested in voicing your opinion about this matter to the legislature, let us know and we’ll guide you on what to do. Meanwhile, stay tuned here for periodic updates.
Your feedback and participation in helping us to fight this and other such measures are truly welcome.
Stacey Sauter is a Republican former candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates, a REALTOR and member of the Montgomery County Republican Party Central Committee. She can be reached at [email protected]
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