Thursday, February 17, 2022

GA Exploring RCV

The next State to dip a toe into Aalternative Voting Methods may be Georgia, where Lawmakers are considering a Bipartisan Proposal far different from recent Election Changes that drew National Criticism from Voting Rights Advocates.

Members of the Georgia General Assembly have introduced Legislation that would allow the use of Ranked-Choice-Voting (RCV), for Local Elections, potentially creating significant Savings in a State that often has to hold an Additional Round (Top-Two Run-Off) Voting after a No Majority Election Day Contest.

Versions of the Legislation have been introduced in both Chambers, and with both Republican and Democratic Sponsors. While these Bills would only impact Municipal Elections, successful Implementation could lead to Changes for Federal and State Elections. Last year, Georgia Approved RCV for Military and Overseas Voters.

In November 2020, when Georgia had Two Senate Races, both Contests had to go to a Runoff. Election Administrators in Fulton, the State’s most Populous County, had to spend another $6.1 million on the January 2021 Runoff Elections, on top of the $38 million spent in 2020.

And last year, approximately 30 Municipalities required Runoffs, including Atlanta, according to Thomas Gehl, Director of Governmental Relations of the Georgia Municipal Association

“We’re getting positive comments from legislators about it,” said Gehl, whose Organization supports the Proposal because it's Optional and could create Cost Savings.

Both Gehl and Bill Bozarth, Treasurer of the RCV-backing group, Better Ballot Georgia, believe it is too early to say whether this Bill would lead to broader use of RCV in the State. But Bozarth said Success at the Local level could create some Momentum. “We think that the sponsors of this bill have acted wisely in putting something forward that the General Assembly could be comfortable with,” he said. “If successful I would fully expect us to pivot to working with some municipalities to start experimenting.”

The 2021 Law that permitted RCV for Overseas Voters was more widely known for tightening the Voting Rules. The Changes included New Voter ID Requirements, Limits on Ballot Drop Boxes, Mew Deadlines for Absentee Voting, and Restrictions on handing out Food or Water to People waiting in line. The Republican-driven Changes followed Joe Biden’s narrow Victory in the State, the First time a Democrat Won Georgia since 1992.

Democrats, Voting Rights groups and some Corporations were Highly Critical of the Law, and Major League Baseball pulled its 2021 All Star Game out of the State.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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