(Ryan Byrne) Campaigns that support ranked-choice voting (RCV) ballot initiatives in Missouri and Nevada have received millions in contributions in the weeks ahead of their signature deadlines. Both of the ballot initiatives would utilize open primaries in which the top candidates, regardless of partisan affiliations, advance to the general election.
In Missouri, the top four vote recipients would advance to the general election. In Nevada, the top five vote recipients would advance. In Missouri and Nevada, voters would use ranked-choice voting to determine who among the four or five candidates wins the election. Despite the similarities between the two proposals, each one has different top donors.
In Nevada, the PAC Nevada Voters First is leading the campaign and signature drive. The PAC received $2.26 million through March 31. Katherine Gehl, founder of the Institute for Political Innovation and former CEO of Gehl Foods, Inc., contributed $1 million. The Final Five Fund, Inc., which the Institute for Political Innovation lists as a 501(c)(4) counterpart, provided $488,000. The Nevada Association of Realtors and Strategic Horizons, a committee associated with the Clark County Education Association, each donated $250,000. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, contributed $100,000, as did the organization Unite America.
In Missouri, the Better Elections PAC is leading the campaign behind the top-four RCV ballot initiative. Better Elections received $4.30 million through March 31. Over 98% of the PAC’s funding came from the organization Article IV, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Article IV is associated with John and Laura Arnold, whose organization Action Now Initiative contributed to RCV-related ballot initiatives in previous years.
The signature deadline is May 8, 2022, in Missouri. The number of signatures required is equal to 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the state’s eight congressional districts. The smallest number of valid signatures required is 160,199; however, the actual requirement depends on from which districts enough signatures were collected.
The deadline to file signatures for the top-five RCV ballot initiative in Nevada is June 21, 2022. At least 135,561 valid signatures are required for the initiative to make the ballot. In Nevada, initiated constitutional amendments, such as the initiative, need to be approved at two successive general elections. So voters would need to approve the ballot initiative in 2022 and 2024.
Statewide RCV ballot measures have gone before voters in three states. Should the ballot initiatives in Missouri and Nevada make the ballot, the two would be the fourth and fifth states to vote on RCV measures.
Maine became the first state to adopt RCV for some statewide elections when voters approved Question 5 in 2016. PACs raised $2.94 million to support Question 5. Action Now Initiative was the largest donor, providing $470,000.
Two states – Alaska and Massachusetts – voted on RCV ballot initiatives in Nov. 2020. Massachusetts Question 2 was defeated, with 54.78% of voters rejecting the proposal. The campaign behind Question 2 raised $10.18 million, including contributions from Action Now Initiative, Unite America, and Katherine Gehl. Voters in Alaska approved Ballot Measure 2, which received 50.55% of the vote. Ballot Measure 2 replaced partisan primaries with open top-four primaries and established ranked-choice voting for general elections. The campaign received $6.84 million, with Unite America and Action Now Initiative as top donors.
Ryan Byrne | Ballitpedia via The Center Square