Click on video or scroll down for testimony of Lane Whitten on behalf of TBOR Action.
Except for the legislative sponsors, only three people testified in favor of the proposed absolute ban of the use of any ranked ballot at a Senate Committee that in the past has drawn HUNDREDS of attendees on other issues.
This revealed the complete lack of support for this Constitutional Amendment.
Lane Whitten offered great testimony as the Policy Director for Take Back Our Republic Action. Please click for the video of his testimony or scroll down to read his testimony. First, we will touch on just a couple of arguments from the few proponents of this ban worth quick answers:
1. LAST ELECTION WITH NO MAJORITY WAS IN 2020, NOT 1992. The argument was made that you had to look all the way back to 1992 to find a Congressional candidate that won with less than 50 percent, which is only technically true since certainly looking at the same ballots it was noticed that you only have to go back to 2020 to see that Joe Biden won Wisconsin 49% to 48% against Trump.
2. FINAL 5 WOULD NOT TAKE A VOTER EVEN AN EXTRA 60 SECONDS. The argument was made that studies show it takes an extra 12 seconds for a voter to consider every candidate on the ballot and thus it would take 1 extra minute to vote if there were five candidates on the ballot. Well, there are always at least 2 candidates on the ballot so the most extra time Final 5 would take would be 36 extra seconds, but the argument is actually backward because many of today’s elections have MORE than 5 candidates so Final 5 could actually save time if the argument since 5 is the limit of candidates.
3. FINAL 5 ACTUALLY SOLVES THE PROBLEMS RAISED BY OPPONENTS. Likewise, the examples used included one unlimited ranked choice vote required 33 ballots – but as was pointed out during the meeting that is actually an argument FOR Final 5 since it does not allow a ranked ballot until there are only 5 candidates left so you could only have a maximum four ballots if you had a race where someone won the initial vote with only 21 percent of the vote and it was deemed better to require an elected official to have 50% plus 1.
The Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection
Senator Dan Knodl, Chairman
On February 8, 2024 Public Hearing, 10 am
Senate Joint Resolution 94: Ban of Final 5 as part of NO EXCEPTIONS Ban of All RCV
(Similar Ban in Georgia made exception for limited RCV passed by TBOR Action)
Lane Whitten, Policy Director - Take Back Our Republic Action
"Thank you Mr. Chairman and committee members. My name is Lane Whitten, I’m a student at UW-Madison and Policy Director for Take Back Our Republic Action. I'll keep my comments brief as our President, John Pudner, has testified at three other hearings on our support for Final Five and opposition to a blanket ban on all Ranked-Choice Voting. Take Back Our Republic Action supports Final Five and urges a no vote on this bill. Let me get into why Final Five should be the system in Wisconsin. Partisan primaries are killing Republican chances in many generals. One must look at the incentives for why different systems are initiated. Other ranked systems are added to attack and eliminate the chances for Republicans to get elected. Final Five is not like this.
The current electoral system in our country, and in Wisconsin, is not benefiting conservatives. With over 50% of the country identifying as conservative, they’re still losing across the board. In the last three election cycles, conservatives lost abysmally, even in a midterm where they should have excelled. We need to get to the root of this dilemma. Democrats can use big-money donors to impact Republican primaries and prop up weaker candidates as seen in the Supreme Court race in Wisconsin. Final Five takes away this ability.
Final Five takes away incentives to attack candidates in your own party so they lose the general. Final Five allows for a focus on ideas, not attacks. These personal battles among conservatives result in wasted war chests and lack of party unity. This is the same on both sides. Final Five changes this. Final Five is implemented with only five people on the ballot, not thirty-five. As people spoke before, there is no Ranked-Choice voting in the open primary, it's only in the general election. Don't need to explain Final Five again, that's been talked about enough, but this system ensures that no candidate wins with only a small plurality of the votes, which is important in races that are not Presidential or Senate.
The argument that it is hard to use is, frankly, unfounded. Alaskans, when polled, overwhelmingly said it was easy. Why are we focusing on banning something that doesn't yet exist and hasn't been tested in Wisconsin? The unique ranking system of Final Five allows for proper majority support. Similar systems have been proven with Governor Glenn Youngkin and in Alaska. These systems weren't exactly the same, but they were similar, and it was just voted in in Nevada.
Final Five allows for candidates to focus on the issues and it allows for the votes to not be wasted of people who vote for the Libertarian and Constitution parties. People consistently talked about spoiling or trashing ballots - this actually does the opposite. People spoil their ballots when they go in and they vote for the Constitution, Libertarian, or Green party, but in reality, like, someone might want to go in and vote for the Libertarian candidate for President, but would much rather prefer Donald Trump to Joe Biden. This ensures that their vote matters in the end when it is down to the last two candidates - no ballots get thrown out.
This is more accountable to people, less accountable to special interest groups. Our President, John Pudner, actually said that this system might cause him to lose money, as he is a political consultant...which just shows how much we believe in this system. Finally, the Final Five voting system allows voters to rank their preferences, leading to increased turnout enthusiasm from those who worry their ballot isn't counted in general. Once again, Take Back Our Republic Action supports Final Five and absolutely encourages a no vote on the bill to ban all Ranked-Choice voting."