Ranked-Choice Voting – Missing the Point on Needed Reform in Illinois

Written by Nancy Hayes

History tends to repeat itself. This is certainly true of “Ranked Choice Voting” in Illinois.

You may remember a junior state senator in Illinois by the name of Barack Obama. In 2001, then-Senator Obama introduced a bill that would have put on the ballot a Constitutional Amendment to elect the Illinois House of Representatives by “fair voting” in 3-seat districts elected by voters given cumulative voting rights.

Then, in 2002, Obama introduced a bill that would have required that partisan primaries for congressional office be conducted by “instant runoff voting” or IRV, also known as ranked-choice voting.

In Illinois, State Representative Kam Buckner (D- Chicago) recently introduced HB 3749, which would allow municipalities to use ranked-choice voting if they choose.

As reported in The Center Square, in a report before a recent House Ethics and Elections Committee, Rep. Buckner said, “The municipality may adopt an ordinance allowing any qualified voter to use a ranked vote by mail ballot for any municipal and township election.”

Rep. Buckner went on to say his goal was “to ensure equal and fair elections through Illinois communities.”

That sure sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

If Rep. Buckner could ensure “equal” and “fair” elections for all citizens in Illinois, that would just be the ultimate legislative victory. But who’s kidding who? Seriously!

There’s more than meets the eye. The truth is usually found when we follow the money.

If you search “Friends of Kam Buckner” on Illinoissunshine.org, you will find among his supporters some of the very same organizations that supported the disastrous Amendment I that appeared on our recent Illinois ballot. The organizations include but are not limited to: LIUNA Chicago Laborers’ District Council PAC ($64,500), Chicago Land Operators Joint Labor PAC ($52,500), Laborers Political League Education Fund ($20,000), SEIU Healthcare IL IN PAC ($17,025), and others.

Interesting, right? It seems like these organizations are pretty involved when it comes to reforming Illinois and elections. First, Amendment I and now, ranked-choice voting.

It makes one question Rep. Buckner’s statement about ensuring “equal and fair elections” doesn’t it? Fair for whom? These PACs? Democrats?

Thankfully, some organizations are speaking up for the rights of all citizens.

Andy Bakker of the Illinois Opportunity Project said the ranked-choice voting measure has the opposite effect (of Buckner’s prediction) and will limit the opportunity for fair elections.

“At the end of the day, ranked-choice voting is a scheme to disconnect elections from issues, and it allows candidates with marginal support to win,” Bakker said. “It obscures true debates and issue-driven dialogues among candidates and eliminates genuine, true, binary choices.”

The Illinois Freedom Caucus is also fighting for the rights of working Illinoisans while standing on conservative values and principles. The Illinois Freedom Caucus includes Rep. Chris Miller (R-Oakland), Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City), Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur), Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville), and Rep. Adam Niemerg (R-Deiterich).


Recently the Illinois Freedom Caucus issued their statement on ranked-choice voting, saying, “It is an expensive and impractical form of voting especially for a state the size of Illinois. Voting has always been based on the premise of “One Person – One Vote.” We already have frequent voting irregularities undermining voter confidence in the safety and security of our elections. Turning our electoral process into something akin to the convoluted Hall of Fame balloting process is not the way to restore confidence in our elections.

They continue, “Instead of focusing on rank(ed) choice voting, we need to prioritize restoring integrity to our elections. Elections should be free and fair. We support reforms such as measures to require the State Board of Elections to set up and maintain a system to track all mail-in ballots (HB 1139), to ensure deceased individuals are removed from voter rolls (HB 1140), or to require photo ID’s for voting (HB 1141). We need to be debating these reforms instead of completely upending our electoral process with rank(ed) choice voting.”

Absolutely! All citizens in Illinois—perhaps even Rep. Buckner—want FREE and FAIR elections. But let’s be real about how that should be accomplished.

The Illinois Freedom Caucus is right!  As citizens of Illinois, we need to first focus on election reforms that will ensure fair and honest elections which include removing dead people from our voter rolls and requiring photo IDs for voting.

After that, we can talk about getting back to paper ballots and voting on one day!

That would return some real common sense to reforming elections in Illinois.

The REAL question is, how many legislators in Illinois—Democrats and Republicans—support COMMON SENSE election reforms that will support FAIR and EQUAL elections?

Take ACTION: Please click HERE to send a message to your State Representative to ask him/her to vote NO to rank-choice voting, HB 3749. You may want to point out that ranked-choice voting system confuses voters, distracts from policy issues, and forces voters to vote for candidates they otherwise would not support. It can also lead to candidates with little genuine support winning elections.

It also brings a much greater risk of election fraud. Additionally, this would make hand counts much more difficult, creating an excuse for computerized vote counting. Genuine election integrity must involve hand-counted paper ballots.

Read more:

Ranked Choice Voting is a Mistake
(Washington Examiner)

Alaska Reminds Us Ranked Choice Voting Is a Bad Idea 
(Real Clear Politics)

Ranked-Choice Voting Is Bad for Everyone

Ranked Choice Voting Is a Bad Choice
(The Heritage Foundation)

New York’s Ranked-Choice Voting Is a Mistake
(National Review)