Roberts Takes Steps to Prohibit Ranked-Choice Voting
Rep. Eric Roberts, R-Oklahoma City, has filed legislation to prohibit the use of ranked-choice voting in all Oklahoma elections, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the state's electoral processes. House Bill 3156 would ban ranked-choice voting within the state. House Joint Resolution 1048 would introduce a legislative referendum allowing voters to decide whether to add stipulations about how elections are conducted into the Oklahoma Constitution and ensure voters can select only one candidate for the same office. "Ranked-choice voting makes voting more confusing and has delayed election results everywhere it has been tried," Roberts said. "We need to preserve the simplicity and timeliness of our current elections, along with our current ease in doing hand recounts when needed." Ranked-choice voting requires voters to designate their top choice in a race, their second choice and so on down the ballot. Roberts gave the example of a ballot with five offices. If each office has four candidates, he said, each voter would be expected to review and rank four candidates for each race, which is a total of 20 votes. If no candidate receives a majority, the least popular candidate is then eliminated and their voters would have their votes reallocated to their second-choice candidate, with the process repeating until one candidate has a majority. The process requires specialized computer software to handle the reallocation of votes from one candidate to another. In an interim study last year, Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said the adoption of ranked-choice voting would necessitate the replacement of all state election machines, including new computer software, with an estimated cost of "tens of millions of dollars." Ziriax told committee members that "the days of knowing the election results on election night would be long gone." Ranked-choice voting has already been banned in Florida, Tennessee, Idaho, Montana and South Dakota. HB3156 and HJR1048 are available for consideration in the Second Regular Session of the 59th Legislature, which begins Monday, Feb. 5.