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Ranked-Choice Voting Keeps Rigging Elections


BY: VICTORIA MARSHALL | JANUARY 11, 2023

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2023/01/11/ranked-choice-voting-keeps-rigging-elections/

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As different states and municipalities across the country adopt ranked-choice voting, it’s become obvious this mind-boggling election system deserves a new name: rigged-choice voting.

After nearly two months of tabulation, Alameda County, California, — one such ranked-choice voting (RCV) adoptee — announced it got the count wrong for its Nov. 8 election. As The Wall Street Journal reported, the California county admitted it made systemic errors while tabulating ballots. As a result of the snafu, an Oakland School Board race flipped: The top vote-getter (and certified winner) must now hand his board seat over to the third-place finisher.

While gross negligence on the part of some Alameda County election officials is not only probable but likely, RCV’s Byzantine election system must also take the blame. In it, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the first round, the last-place finisher is eliminated, and his voters are reallocated to the voter’s second-choice candidate. The process continues until one candidate receives a majority of votes. For the Oakland mayor’s race, it took nine baffling rounds of RCV for one candidate to receive the narrow majority. The local NAACP chapter demanded a manual recount but scrapped it due to the expense.

In the case of the Oakland School Board election, officials blame a software configuration problem for the error (even the machines were confused about how to count the RCV-way). But is it right for a candidate who receives a plurality of votes on the first go-through to eventually lose to someone who finishes last? Often, the victors that emerge from ranked-choice voting are not the candidates a majority of voters favor. Case-in-point: Democrat Mary Peltola won Alaska’s lone congressional seat despite nearly 60 percent of voters casting their ballots for a Republican.

What’s behind the RCV takeover? As The Federalist has previously reported, partisan Democratic activists and moderate Republicans are pushing RCV as a legal mechanism to push out more revolutionary (read: populist) candidates in favor of establishment-backed contenders. As Project Veritas has documented, the moderate, nominal Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski was behind the campaign to change Alaska’s primary to an RCV system, ensuring the defeat of her Trump-backed challenger Kelly Tshibaka. Had Alaska not implemented RCV, Tshibaka likely would have defeated Murkowski in the primary.

There is a myriad of problems with RCV, as the Alameda County debacle shows. The Foundation for Government Accountability notes that ranked-choice voting causes ballot exhaustion (when a ballot is cast but does not count toward the end election result), diminishes voter confidence, and lags election results. It can take weeks or even months for a ranked-choice race to be counted, threatening the security of the process.

If Americans desire democracy and election integrity, rigged-choice voting is clearly not the way to go.


Victoria Marshall is a staff writer at The Federalist. Her writing has been featured in the New York Post, National Review, and Townhall. She graduated from Hillsdale College in May 2021 with a major in politics and a minor in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @vemrshll.

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Senate Republicans unveil revised healthcare bill


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Senate Republican leaders on Thursday unveiled a revised version of their bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare as they race toward a high-stakes vote next week. The measure includes changes intended to win over additional votes, with leadership making concessions aimed at bringing both conservatives and moderates on board. (READ THE BILL HERE.)

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is facing a tough task in finding enough votes to pass the bill. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) appear to be firmly against the measure, and one other defection would kill the bill. Overall, McConnell appears to have shifted the revised bill more toward the conservatives than the moderates.

Importantly, the bill largely keeps the Medicaid sections the same, meaning that deeper cuts to the program will still begin in 2025, and the funds for ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid will still end in 2024. The changes to Medicaid have emerged as a top concern for moderates such as Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that those Medicaid changes in the original bill would result in 15 million fewer people being enrolled in the program and cut spending by $772 billion over 10 years.

Collins said she still plans to vote against a motion to proceed to the bill, adding that the legislation should move through the normal committee process.

“My strong inclination and current intention is to vote no on the motion to proceed,” Collins told reporters after leaving a briefing on the legislation.

“The only way I’d change my mind is if there’s something in the new bill that wasn’t discussed or that I didn’t fully understand or the CBO estimate comes out and says they fixed the Medicaid cuts, which I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

For the conservatives, the measure includes a version of an amendment from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee  (R-Utah) aimed at allowing insurers to offer plans that do not meet all of ObamaCare’s regulations, including those protecting people with pre-existing conditions and mandating that plans cover certain services, such as maternity care and mental healthcare.

Conservatives argue the change would allow healthier people to buy cheaper plans, but moderates and many healthcare experts warn that premiums would spike for the sick people remaining in the more generous insurance plans.

Cruz said he will support the bill so long as the provisions he sees as a priority are not changed in amendment votes on the floor.

“If this is the bill, I will support this bill,” Cruz told reporters after a meeting of GOP senators. “Now, if it’s amended and we lose the protections that lower premiums, my view could well change.”

Senate Republicans had vowed to not change the ObamaCare protections for people from being charged more based on their health in their bill, which is why the debate over the Cruz-Lee amendment has been heated. A Senate GOP aide said Thursday it is possible that the Cruz amendment would not be analyzed by the CBO in time for the vote next week. It is possible the Department of Health and Human Services could provide an alternative analysis.

Lee cautioned that he was not involved in the changes to the proposal, including the amendment, and would have to review the new language before deciding whether to support it. The bill does include new funding, $70 billion over seven years, aimed at easing costs for those sick people remaining in the ObamaCare plans.

However, the new measure does not boost the generosity of the tax credits, as some moderates wanted. It still replaces ObamaCare’s tax credits to help people afford insurance with a smaller, scaled-down tax credit that provides less assistance.

The Kaiser Family Foundation found premium costs would increase an average of 74 percent for the most popular healthcare plan, given the reduced assistance in the GOP bill.

The new measure will leave in place two ObamaCare taxes on the wealthy, in a departure from the initial bill.

That original measure lacked the support to pass, as more moderate members pointed to the CBO’s finding that 22 million fewer people would have insurance over a decade.

Senate Republicans are now awaiting a new score of the revised legislation from the CBO, which could come early next week.

The new bill does include $45 billion to fight opioid addiction, but moderates such as Capito and Portman who hail from states where the problem is rampant have said they also want changes to the Medicaid portion of the legislation.

Portman said his position on the bill had not changed, but he did not give a clear answer on whether he’d back his party on the procedural vote.

“I’m the same position I’ve been in. I’m looking at the language,” he said.

Capito also said she doesn’t know whether she’ll vote to proceed to the bill.

“We have another meeting this afternoon on the Medicaid cuts,” she told reporters. “I need to really look at it, look at the score; I still have concerns.”

Asked if she would vote for the motion to proceed next week, she said, “Wait and see.”

In a change that could appeal to Murkowski, the bill sets aside 1 percent of the stability funds for states with costs that are 75 percent above the national average, which would benefit high-cost states like Alaska.

— This story was updated at 3:15 p.m. Alexander Bolton contributed.

Senate confirms Perry for Energy secretary


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Senate confirms Perry for Energy secretary / © Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Rick Perry to lead the Energy Department — an agency he once pledged to eliminate. Perry, the former Texas governor and a two-time Republican presidential candidate, was confirmed on a 62-37 vote.

The Senate confirmed Perry after only a few hours of debate on Thursday afternoon, moving unexpectedly quickly on the final cabinet-level member of President Trump’s energy and environment team.
During a Republican primary debate in 2011, Perry listed the three federal agencies he would abolish as president but famously forgot the Energy Department, quipping, “oops.” But after Trump nominated him to lead the department in December, Perry said he had reconsidered the importance of the agency, which supports energy research and oversees the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

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“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry said at his January confirmation hearing.
“In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”
Republicans supported Perry’s nomination, applauding his support of the Texas energy sector during his time as governor and saying his experience in Austin means he can effectively lead a $30 billion, 14,400-person department.
“He will hold his employees and contractors accountable. We know that he will be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said during floor debate on Thursday.
“I think that he will work to continue to break down the research silos that have really frustrated the department and work to find ways that there can be greater collaboration — greater working together — and I’m also confident that he will pursue policies that will ultimately provide us with more stable sources of energy.”
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Democrats said they are concerned about Perry’s views on climate change and his support for climate research in the department. The Trump administration has previously hinted at potential deep cuts for the Energy Department, something Democrats contend Perry will struggle to resist.
“I take Gov. Perry at this word that he has been briefed on all the functions of the Department of Energy and that he does not believe it should be abolished, as he once articulated,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said.
“But, as I said, his testimony leaves a lot to question about whether he will fight for these essential programs in a Trump administration who have already tried to target these agencies and programs to be defunded.”
The Senate confirmed Perry after only about three hours of debate on Thursday, moving his nomination quicker than any other energy or environment official in Trump’s cabinet.
Senators confirmed Ryan Zinke to lead the Interior Department on Wednesday. Scott Pruitt became administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in February.
Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Tom Carper (Del.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.), and Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), voted with all present Republicans to back Perry.
GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) was not present.

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