Black Voters Learning the Truth About Ranked-Choice Voting

The Black Chronicle recently published a column by the Center for Election Confidence’s (CEC) Lisa Dixon debunking a bogus study claiming Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) helps minority voters. The Black Chronicle is a weekly periodical in Oklahoma serving a statewide audience of Black Americans and one of the largest paid weekly newspapers in the state.

“This is a significant pick-up for all of us fighting for election confidence,” said Dixon. “It is critical for minority voters to understand the truth about Ranked-Choice Voting and this is a good start,” Dixon added. “Progressives, who for years have claimed to champion minority voting rights, are now advocating for a voter scheme which has been shown to disproportionately hurt minority voters.”

Under RCV, voters have the option to rank all candidates on the ballot according to their personal preferences. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes, officials tally (or count) the ballots multiple times, dropping the candidate receiving the lowest number of votes and reassigning the votes from the dropped candidates, until a single candidate achieves a majority of votes. If someone fails to rank all the candidates, his or her vote may not be counted in all later rounds in a process referred to as “exhaustion.”

From Dixon’s guest column in the Black Chronicle

Almost everywhere it’s been tried, Black Americans have alleged that their ballots are discarded at a higher rate than those of non-minority voters. After losing his mayoral bid in a ranked-choice voting election in Oakland, Calif., Seneca Scott, a Black candidate, said, “When we’re looking at the data, it looked like a lot of people, who clearly intended to vote a certain way, had their ballots tossed for overvotes because they made a mistake. And these mistakes trend in disenfranchised, marginalized communities.

The head of the New York State chapter of the NAACP went so far as to call ranked-choice voting “voter suppression.

While the anecdotal evidence was troubling, it wasn’t enough to hold up to legal scrutiny in the courts or make a definitive case in the court of public opinion. Hard evidence came last month when the Center for Election Confidence released a nonpartisan study by Princeton professor Nolan McCarty, “Minority Electorates and Ranked Choice Voting.

Applying rigorous data analysis to recent ranked-choice voting elections, Prof. McCarty shows minority ballots are, in fact, discarded at a higher rate than those of non-minorities under ranked-choice voting.

The full study “Minority Electorates and Ranked Choice Voting” is available here: