The South Dakota Capitol Rotunda. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)
A lawmaker who hopes to be the next chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party, state Sen. John Wiik, R-Big Stone City, wants to ban ranked choice voting.
Ranked choice voting refers to any voting system in which voters rank their choice of candidate by ordered preference. Those rankings are used to determine a winner in the event no candidate wins a majority of ballots on which they appear as voters’ first preference.
“This is my last term and there have always been bills coming up for ranked choice voting,” Wiik said. “Now that we’ve seen it in an election cycle in other states, I never want to see it in South Dakota.”
Wiik pointed to Alaska as an example of a state that experienced difficulties, but he did not elaborate about what those difficulties were.
Voters in Alaska used ranked-choice voting for the first time during the 2022 midterm election. Democrat Mary Peltola defeated Republican former governor Sarah Palin and others for a U.S. House seat.
Proponents say ranked choice voting allows the will of the majority to emerge, and legislators should not limit voters’ options.
“South Dakota Democrats stand for freedom and local control,” said state Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, who opposes Wiik’s bill. “Local governments should be able to arrange themselves however they want.”
Proponents also say ranked-choice voting can eliminate the need for runoff elections. That saves money for jurisdictions and reduces the number of times voters have to cast ballots, according to Nesiba.
Wiik introduced his bill to ban ranked choice voting Wednesday. It has not yet been assigned to a committee or scheduled for a hearing.
Wiik is running for chairman of the state Republican Party against former legislator Thomas Brunner. Party officials will choose a chairman at a meeting this weekend in Pierre.
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