NV voting-rights groups unite to fight ranked-choice voting

NV voting-rights groups unite to fight ranked-choice voting
A polling site in Fallon, Nevada on Nov. 3, 2020. Image: Ty O'Neil / This Is Reno

By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service.

CARSON CITY — A coalition of community groups calling itself “Let Nevada Vote” is speaking out against a proposed ballot initiative that would require the state to adopt ranked-choice voting.

Backers of the so-called “Nevada Voters First” initiative say it’s intended to give independent voters a greater voice and produce election winners with the broadest support.

But Emily Persaud-Zamora, executive director of Silver State Voices, said she thinks ranked-choice voting would only trip voters up – and result in more invalid ballots.

“Ranked-choice voting makes casting a ballot more time consuming,” said Persaud-Zamora, “more complicated and more confusing for voters.”

With ranked-choice voting, people rank multiple candidates by preference. If anyone gets more than 50%, they win.

If not, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated.

And each voter who had ranked the now-eliminated candidate as their first choice has their single vote transferred to the candidate who was their next-highest choice.

Eric Jeng, director of outreach for the Asian Community Development Council, noted that New York City and San Francisco have tried ranked-choice voting – with mixed results.

“Even with these big cities devoting tremendous resources and research into how best to educate their voters,” said Jeng, “we still see a very hard, steep learning curve for them.”

And Ruben Murillo, former president of the Nevada State Education Association, said he thinks ranked-choice voting should not be enshrined in the state constitution.

“I’m opposed to this,” said Murillo, “because I don’t like putting something into the constitution that you can’t change easily.”

The initiative would also abolish partisan primaries and move to an open primary in which the top five candidates advance, regardless of party affiliation.

The initiative must get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot by June 21.

The coalition is also informing people about how to withdraw a signature from the petition, on the website – ‘protectyourvotenv.com.’