Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law an elections bill. Ron DeSantis (R), signed into law this week a bill restricting municipalities’ ability to organize elections and banning ranked-choice voting.
Senate Bill 524 creates a new police force that is tasked with aggressively investigating claims of voter fraud throughout the state — Experts warn that such a move is blatantly fascist, as such fraud doesn’t happen on a scale that would warrant expanding surveillance.
There are also a few lesser-known provisions in the bill, such as a ban on the use of ranked-choice voting in the state.
Ranked-choice voting “makes democracy more fair and functional” by ensuring that voters are given “the option to rank candidates in order of preference,” the voting organization FairVote explains on its website.
The ranked-choice voting process works in a very simple way: voters rank each candidate on the ballot according to which they prefer. The lowest-ranked candidate is eliminated if no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes in the first round. If you ranked the eliminated candidate as your first choice, your vote still counts — it’s simply redistributed to your second-choice candidate. This process continues until one candidate is elected to the majority.
Ranked-choice voting is frequently praised for allowing voters to pick whichever candidates they most prefer without worrying that doing so will be “throwing away” their ballots, a problem that arises under the “first past the post” system of voting. Both conservative progressiveVoters in areas where ranked-choice voting has been used have reported being overwhelmingly satisfied by its implementation.
DeSantis, Republicans in Florida have banned ranked-choice vote throughout the state, despite its popularity.
The bill prohibits the use of ranked-choice voting “to determine election or nomination to elective office,” and voids any “existing or future local ordinances authorizing the use of ranked-choice voting.” That means that no village, town, city or county can utilize the voting process from now on, and that any city that has already approved of ranked-choice voting can no longer employ such a system.
One city had passed an ordinance to enable ranked-choice vote implementation, while another was considering it. Sarasota’s city council voted in 2007 to allow ranked-choice voting. However, the state never approved the software necessary to implement the process. In 2021, the city council of Clearwater moved to put the idea up for a vote among its residents in this year’s elections.
Ranked-choice voting will not be available to these communities unless the new law is repealed.