Lawmakers Discuss Possible Change to ‘Ranked Choice Voting’

Lawmakers Discuss Possible Change to 'Ranked Choice Voting'


Lawmakers Discuss Possible Change to ‘Ranked Choice Voting’ (Springfield, IL) (via The Center Square) – Illinois lawmakers are debating a proposed measure that could change how municipal elections are decided.

Ranked choice voting is a voting system in which voters rank their candidates from first to last instead of selecting one candidate on their ballot.

State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, introduced House Bill 3749 to allow municipalities to switch to ranked choice voting if they so choose.

“The municipality may adopt an ordinance allowing any qualified voter to use a ranked vote by mail ballot for any municipal and township election,” Buckner said before a recent House Ethics and Elections Committee.

Buckner said his goal with the measure is to ensure equal and fair elections throughout Illinois communities.

“There are reasons we brought this bill forward, but it specifically deals with these municipalities who have these nonpartisan municipal consolidated elections,” Buckner said.

Andy Bakker of the Illinois Opportunity Project said the measure has the opposite effect and will limit the opportunity for fair elections.

“At the end of the day, ranked choice voting is a scheme to disconnect elections from issues, and it allows candidates with marginal support to win,” Bakker said. “It obscures true debates and issue-driven dialogues among candidates and eliminates genuine, true, binary choices.”


The measure also raised questions about the validity of the results of a ranked choice election. State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoira, said in some cases, candidates could be hurt by voters choosing to rank them first on the ballot.

“When I read of examples where a voter may elevate a particular candidate to their number one position, and that ends up having a detrimental effect on their candidate of preference, that is concerning to me,” Spain said.

Buckner said if you look at Chicago and their runoff election for mayor, the city could be saving money if they had a ranked choice system in place.

“In the small municipality I live in, Chicago, there are estimates that runoff elections cost the city between $25 [million] and $35 million each time,” Buckner said.

The Illinois Freedom Caucus, which consists of Republican lawmakers, released a statement after the committee hearing and called the system expensive and said it would undermine voter confidence in elections.

“It is an expensive and impractical form of voting, especially for a state the size of Illinois. Voting has always been based on the premise of ‘One Person – One Vote.’ We already have frequent voting irregularities undermining voter confidence in the safety and security of our elections,” the statement reads. “Turning our electoral process into something akin to the convoluted Hall of Fame balloting process is not the way to restore confidence in our elections.”

The city of Evanston last year voted to implement ranked choice voting for their elections by 2025.

Lawmakers Discuss Possible Change to ‘Ranked Choice Voting’

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