Imagine a scenario where Idaho politicians are more likely than not to vote to restrict gun rights, loosen abortion laws, regulate homeschools, and grow government. That's the type of result proponents of the ranked-choice ballot initiative are really after, even if they won't admit it.
Why? Because for the last 25 years, Idaho’s electorate has become increasingly conservative, and with the advent of new tools like the Idaho Freedom Index, voters have been able to act on their conservative impulses. This has given Idaho its most conservative Legislature since statehood. This new Legislature is more likely than ever to vote in defense of our constitutionally-protected rights and limit the size and scope of government. While the Legislature still isn’t as conservative as it ought to be, the trendline is clear.
This is the reality that leftist Republicans and Democrats hope to reverse with the ranked choice voting initiative making its way to the ballot box in 2024. Under the proposal, leftist Republicans, who find it more difficult to win in the GOP primary for being too much like Democrats, would be virtually guaranteed a spot in the general election. That’s because the ballot initiative would take the top four vote-getters in each primary election race and put them through automatically to November.
Because most primary election contests for the Legislature include between two and four candidates, the odds of a moderate making it through to the general election ballot go up considerably before a single vote is cast.
Even still, the next challenge is collecting enough votes in the general election to win in a state where voters would prefer conservative legislators. Initiative backers solve that problem by rigging the outcome of the election. That’s where the “ranked choice” part of the initiative comes in. The initiative allows voters to cast votes for multiple candidates, ranking their preference of candidates in order.
Consider a legislative contest featuring a conservative Republican, a leftist Republican, and a Democrat. A conservative voter is unlikely to vote more than once. He’ll “rank” the conservative as his one and only choice. That leaves left-leaning Republicans, Democrats, and independents voting in support of their two candidates: the leftist Republican and the Democrat. By themselves, these candidates wouldn’t get enough support to win the election. But the ballot initiative’s voting mechanism enables left-leaning voters to combine their support behind second- and third-choice candidates, giving them the edge over favored conservative candidates.
In practical terms, what this means is the election of candidates more willing to, for example, pass red flag laws to confiscate weapons from people, laws that limit the exercise of freedom of speech and the right of assembly, and laws that restrict property rights and give government more power over economic activity. It means the election of candidates who are more likely to create new government programs and expand existing ones. It means the election of candidates who view government as the solution to everything, clearing the path for more people on welfare, more government control over education, and fewer freedoms for the citizenry.
Backers of the initiative will tell you it's all about civility and consensus legislating. It's not. The ballot initiative is clearly an attempt to rig elections to favor the unfavorable, to give these unfavorable winners the appearance of legitimacy after having “won” their rigged elections, and to then govern the state, once again and forever more, from the left.
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