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From the Book: The Case Against Ranked-Choice Voting

Youngkin won in spite of RCV, not because of it

by Trent England

Glenn Youngkin 52442417771

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Republicans swept Virginia’s statewide offices in the 2021 election, as voters rejected politicians who think parents should sit down and shut up when it comes to their kids’ schools. But RCV advocates make another claim: that RCV deserves credit for Republicans nominating their winning candidates.

As Jason Snead and I write in The Case Against Ranked-Choice Voting, this “just-so story” by RCV advocates is a misleading distortion of the facts.

The story is silly for three reasons. First, the Virginia Republican Party only used RCV because of the COVID shutdowns. It was an emergency measure to replace its usual convention, which features multiple rounds of voting but also allows for deliberation and compromise during the process. Second, the convention-replacement use of RCV was not the equivalent of a primary election because it featured only 12,550 elected delegates.

The most important rebuttal, however, is the simple fact that Youngkin led in every round of ballot counting. In other words, RCV made no difference to the outcome. The same was true of the nominees for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.

It would be more accurate to say that Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares won in spite of RCV. Each led on the first ballot, but had to win repeatedly in the additional rounds of tabulation in order to become the nominee. (Results for each round of tabulation can be found at Ballotpedia.) The debate over voting systems is a serious one—the public deserves more from RCV advocates than misleading claims that only work when some of the facts are conveniently left out of the story.

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