By T.A. DeFEO
The Georgia Senate passed a bill Friday to bar ranked-choice voting in the state. The chamber passed Senate Bill 355 by a 31-19 margin.
“We must aggressively fend off any attempts of anyone attempting to hijack our election software while also combating those who attempt to reduce voter turnout or confuse our citizens with overcomplicated processes under the guise of saving money,” state Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, said during Friday’s debate. “One such idea that has crawled out of the tar pits from yesterday is rank choice voting or RCV.”
Robertson said rank choice voting has been around since the early 1900s. While the approach disappeared, “some politicians who did not like runoffs” reintroduced the process, the lawmaker added.
During Friday’s debate, state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, said moving to ranked-choice voting, could help save the cost of runoffs. The 2020 U.S. Senate runoff cost $75 million, Parent said.
“I view SB 355 as the latest part of the disinformation campaign about elections and, therefore, another effort to undermine faith and democratic principles and systems,” Parent said.
“Before we pass any legislation, we should ask ourselves, what is the purpose of the policy under consideration?” Parent asked. “One key question might be, does this policy banning rank-choice voting support good governance? A follow-on to that is, is there an actual problem to be solved by the legislation or an issue to be addressed? Here with SB 355, the answer is a clear ‘no,’ because ranked-choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, isn’t legal anywhere in Georgia today.”
Parent noted that Georgians serving in the military overseas vote via ranked choice.
The state Senate also passed Senate Bill 358 by a 30-19 margin. It clarifies that the State Election Board can investigate the secretary of state, an office currently occupied by Republican Brad Raffensperger.
“In order to have free and fair elections, Georgians must have the utmost trust in their state’s elections systems,” Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a Republican, said in a statement. “Senate Bills 355 and 358 strengthen our elections process by dispelling ambiguity and increasing public trust with Georgia’s voters.”
Raffensperger’s office did not respond to a request for comment.