North Dakota Nears Ban On Alternative Voting System

North Dakota is nearing a ban on a controversial alternative voting system, which several states have used to replace its traditional form of democratic elections.

The state’s legislature is close to a ban on ranked-choice voting, which is used in countries such as Australia to replace the common first-past-the-post system. The first-past system is simple: the candidate with the most votes wins.

The North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill by a 74-19 margin to ban the practice. Due to the significant Republican majority in the State Senate, the bill is likely to pass in the coming weeks.

If the North Dakota legislature completes the ban on ranked-choice voting, it would be among the first times that the practice has been specifically banned across the country.

North Dakota’s neighbor South Dakota is also nearing a ban on the voting practice. Florida specifically banned the system in 2022.

Ranked-choice voting has become more popular in the United States over the past two decades. It is currently used in Maine and Alaska. The practice made a major difference in Rep. Kelly Tshibaka (D-AK) defeating former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) in 2022 and re-election of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The voting system is utilized when one candidate doesn’t meet a minimum threshold of votes in an election, usually 50%. On such an occasion, the final result will be decided by a complex system of calculations based on the ballot.

A ranked-choice voting system will list each candidate on one side of the ballot, just like a traditional method. On the other side, a voter will not just make one choice, but instead multiple. Voters are asked to rank candidates from highest to lowest choice.

If no candidate meets the threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes is removed from the counting. Those who selected the dropped candidate first will have their votes redistributed. On this occasion, the second choice for the dropped candidate will receive those votes.

Part of the reasoning behind ranked-choice voting is that it will prevent either candidates from winning with less than 50% of the vote or prevent the need for runoff elections, as occurred in Georgia and Louisiana.