SB 137 not only bans Ranked Choice Voting – it takes power away from voters and lets Statehouse politicians dictate how our communities are run.
- A bill introduced at the Ohio Statehouse, SB 137, is part of a national disinformation campaign designed to prevent localities from making elections more free and fair with Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).
- As SB 137 acknowledges, RCV simply uses an instant runoff process to allow more parties/candidates to run, while requiring a majority to win.
- Ohio's current plurality-wins system is causing Ohioans to lose faith in democracy because it limits voter choices and fails to require a majority to win.
- SB 137 would effectively ban RCV at the local level by financially punishing communities for upholding majority rule. This power grab threatens the Home Rule Authority granted by the Ohio Constitution for local governments to make decisions based on their local needs and not a one-size-fits-all approach dictated by State Government.
Follow these links for more background by The Statehouse News Bureau and this editorial by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Key messages for public education and educating decision-makers:
- SB 137 is big government overreach: SB 137 violates the spirit of Ohioans’ right to Home Rule by letting Statehouse politicians and bureaucrats tell localities how to run their elections.
- SB 137 is Issue One all over again: Politicians are trying to take power away from voters and give it to themselves.
- RCV = majority rule and improved elections: RCV means candidates win with support from a majority of voters. It mitigates the “spoiler effect” and rewards more positive, more issues-focused campaigning.
- RCV strengthens winning candidates. Election winners can lead with confidence because they’ve won a majority of support. Some state parties like Virginia Republicans use RCV to elect stronger nominees with broader appeal.
- Voters – including Republicans – like and understand RCV: Over 80% of voters in Alaska & Utah found RCV “simple” and “easy” after using it. A majority of Virginia Republicans who used RCV in the 2022 primaries said they preferred RCV.
- RCV is a 100-year-old Ohio-grown voting system: Five Ohio cities used RCV in the last century before repeal efforts were led by corrupt politicians and party bosses. The bill's sponsor acknowledged that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 1923 that Ohio municipalities and charter counties have a right to use RCV, which is why the bill withholds Local Government Funds in order to "effectively prohibit" RCV through coercion.
- Ohioans – including conservatives – support Home Rule and small government: Classic conservatives believe Home Rule for local self-government is sacred because decisions impacting local communities should be made at the level closest to The People.
- SB 137's ban on RCV in municipal elections would harm urban Republicans: Major Ohio cities effectively have one-party rule, but RCV would allow more Republicans, Independents, and other candidates across the political spectrum to compete.
Republican opposition to similar bills in other states:
- North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum: "If we truly believe in limited government and local control, we can begin by honoring the boundaries, intent and spirit of home rule charters, especially when there is no evidence of any harm having occurred from trusting the residents of cities to have self-determination within the bounds of their home rule charters."
- Montana Rep. George Nikolakakos: “It’s very simple. It’s very easy… It’s passed in Maine. It’s passed in Alaska. It’s passed in states where people still have an independent mind like we do in Montana … Independent-minded people like Ranked Choice Voting... and we should not override local control for a type of voting that is basically just an instant runoff.”
- Montana Rep. Paul Green: “I don’t believe that I have the capacity to tell another local community how they go about their elections. For that I’m gonna be a No.”
Responding to misinformation:
RCV is simple, not confusing
- 92% of Minneapolis voters said RCV is simple.
- 85% of Alaska voters reported that RCV is “simple” in their first RCV election.
- 81% of Utah voters said RCV is easy in their first RCV election.
RCV is driven by the grassroots in Ohio, not outside interests.
- RCV has been supported for years by politically diverse volunteers in Ohio.
- Opposition to RCV is pushed by out-of-state special interests.
RCV is in line with the Founders’ intentions and “one person, one vote.”
- Our Constitution and laws have always left election rules up to states and municipalities. These are “laboratories of democracy,” and the way we’ve run elections has changed over the years.
- Our Founders intended to create a system of governance by consensus, which would be helped by majority-wins elections, and they warned against the two-party factionalism that evolved from plurality-wins elections.
- RCV has been upheld as "one person, one vote" every time it has been legally challenged. Your one vote may simply transfer to your next choice, like in a runoff, without having another election because you already list your backup choices. As the League of Women Voters explains, RCV actually upholds "one person, one vote" better than plurality-wins elections because your vote is more likely to help elect a winner instead of being wasted.
RCV results can be determined quickly and transparently.
- The majority of RCV jurisdictions – including Utah cities, Minneapolis, and San Francisco – release RCV results the night of or day after the election.
- Where results have been slower, it has been a result of state policy and choices made by local election administrators to allow time for absentee ballots to come in, which has nothing to do with RCV. The actual RCV tabulation takes seconds.
- RCV results can be counted or verified through a hand count. The Virginia GOP used paper ballots for RCV contests in 2021 and 2022.
Coverage of SB 137 in the media: Cleveland Plain Dealer article (7/21/23), Statehouse News Bureau article (7/25/23), WVXU analysis (7/26/23), Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial (7/30/23), Toledo Blade Editorial (8/1/23), NBC4 story (8/2/23)
Conservative pushback against attacks on RCV: Former Ohio Rep. Gene Krebs, Walter Olson of the CATO Institute, Kevin Kosar of the American Enterprise Institute, Matt Germer of the R Street Institute, Jonathan Bydlak of the R Street Institute, former State GOP Chairs Saul Anuzis & Stan Lockhart