While ranked choice voting (RCV) has several advantages, it is also subject to criticisms and concerns. Here are a few of the negatives associated with ranked choice voting:
Complexity and Voter Confusion: Ranked choice voting can be more complicated for voters to understand than traditional voting methods. Some critics argue that it may confuse voters, particularly those less politically engaged or with limited education on the system. This complexity can lead to voter errors, such as not ranking enough candidates or making mistakes in the ranking order.
Increased Costs: Implementing and administering ranked choice voting can be more expensive than traditional voting methods. Additional resources are needed for voter education, ballot design, and counting processes involving multiple tabulation rounds. The increased costs may pose challenges for cash-strapped jurisdictions, notably smaller municipalities with limited budgets.
Potential for Strategic Manipulation: Critics argue that ranked-choice voting opens the door to strategic manipulation of the system. In specific scenarios, voters might strategically rank candidates to maximize the chances of their preferred candidate winning or disadvantage other candidates. This strategic behavior can complicate the voting process and undermine the principle of simply expressing one's valid preferences.
Technical Challenges: Implementing ranked-choice voting requires changes to existing election infrastructure and ballot designs. This transition may present technical challenges and potentially result in errors or logistical issues during the initial stages of implementation. Ensuring the accurate counting and tabulation of votes can be more complex under a ranked-choice voting system.
Limited Third-Party Success: While ranked-choice voting aims to support third-party and independent candidates, there is a concern that it might not necessarily lead to increased success for such candidates. In practice, major party candidates can still dominate under RCV, and the impact of third-party or independent candidates may not be as significant as proponents hope.
It's worth noting that many of these concerns can be mitigated through proper voter education, practical implementation strategies, and careful attention to ballot design and counting procedures. Jurisdictions implementing ranked-choice voting have developed resources and support systems to address these concerns and ensure a smooth transition. Nevertheless, ranked-choice voting poses a real risk to Election Integrity in America.