Once again, out-of-state liberal billionaires are trying to use our constitution to change Arkansas into the kind of state they think it should be: liberal, woke, and progressive. Their scheming strikes at our system of elections which is the very heart of our representative democracy. One billionaire says her “mission is to change the country” and views her work as “a kind of laboratory for the country.” But Arkansans shouldn’t be treated as lab rats in their radical experiment to rig our elections.
That radical experiment is something called ranked-choice voting, which would abolish the election system we’ve all used throughout our lives. Put simply, ranked-choice voting would rob you of your right to pick who represents you. Now that the local cat’s paw of these out-of-state liberals has submitted a constitutional amendment to impose ranked-choice voting on unsuspecting voters, Arkansans need to know the dangers of this scheme before it’s too late.
The Founding Fathers designed our elections to give us a simple method of representation—the candidate with the most votes wins. Today, we can vote in a primary—and we can even pick the primary in which to vote without belonging to a party—then there’s a campaign for candidates to make their case, and finally, we select a winner in the November election. It’s straightforward. Arkansans are familiar and comfortable with this system, which our country has used for hundreds of years because it works and it’s a core tenet of our democracy.
But these liberal billionaires would overthrow our tried-and-true system with their dangerous experiment. They want to impose on Arkansans a four-way ranked-choice voting scheme that no state has ever tried. If their amendment passes, Arkansas would have the most radical voting system in America. And that would directly threaten your right to vote and the sanctity of the ballot box.
Here’s how the scheme would work: instead of the primary election we all know, there would an early election from which four candidates of any party would advance to the November election. This so-called “jungle primary” could have dozens of candidates, confusing voters’ choice. In the November election, you would no longer vote for your preferred candidate to win. Instead, you would rank the candidates from first place to last place. When no candidate wins a majority of first-place votes—as would typically happen with four candidates on the ballot—the candidate with the fewest first-place votes would be eliminated, and that candidate’s second-place votes would become first-place votes for a different candidate. This elimination scheme would be repeated until a candidate has a majority of first place votes.
Sound confusing? It’s meant to be. And it gets worse.
The ranked-choice scheme is a naked power grab. It’s no coincidence that out-of-state liberals only pushed this scheme once Arkansans began voting for Republicans. These liberals, who raised millions of dollars for Barack Obama, want to disrupt our elections by forcing Arkansans to choose between three Republicans and one Democrat, hoping to split the conservative vote and, in the convoluted elimination process, enable the liberal to win.
Here’s one example of how it could happen. If you only ranked one candidate, as many voters would do out of habit and preference, and your candidate doesn’t get a majority of first-place votes, as part of the elimination process your vote is thrown out and wouldn’t count at all. This could allow a candidate supported by small minority to win even though many more Arkansans support other candidates—and actively opposed the “winning” candidate.
This radical scheme would badly distort our campaigns. With four candidates for every major office, you could barely know who is running against whom, which issues the candidates are campaigning on, or if your third-place vote is going to turn into a first-place vote or vice versa.
Today, if a candidate supports liberal policies like partial-birth abortion or defunding the police, the other candidate can point that out during a campaign. But in a four-way ranked-choice election with one Democrat, three Republicans, and a complicated elimination process, campaigns will be cluttered and confusing, leaving Arkansans often without sound information and clear contrasts.
Many Arkansans were likely unaware of the details of this scheme when they signed the petition because the description is complicated, confusing, and purposefully obscured by those pushing it. It’s possible that the signature gatherers who were paid by the out-of-state liberal billionaires didn’t fully understand the scheme, either.
Arkansas should not be a laboratory for liberal billionaires to experiment to end elections as we know them, simply because they don’t like how Arkansans vote. Don’t tolerate their elitist condescension and meddling in our politics.
But unless Arkansans understand what is at stake, there’s a real danger that the ranked-choice voter scheme could pass this November. Arkansans should vote NO.
Tom Cotton is a U.S. Senator for Arkansas.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in op-eds are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Arkansas Money & Politics or About You Media Group.