RCV in Kansas
Rank the Vote Kansas
In early 2019, a few Kansans from across the state met by phone several times and discussed the history of ranked-choice voting in Kansas and obstacles to getting it enacted here. Out of that early group emerged a small coalition which has been growing steadily since then.
In late 2019 and early 2020, we provided public education in preparation for the 2020 Kansas Democratic presidential primary.
In 2020, our efforts were mostly on hold during the pandemic but, beginning in November 2020, we restarted monthly organization and planning meetings and also restarted ranked-choice voting presentations to community groups.
We are currently focused on letting Kansans know that ranked-choice voting is an option, how it works, and how it can benefit Kansans. By helping Kansans understand the potential of ranked-choice voting in the state, we hope to generate a broad base of voter support for future legislation to enact ranked-choice voting in Kansas.
2023 SB 202, the Kansas Ranked-Choice Voting Act
On February 7, 2023, the Kansas Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs introduced SB 202, the Kansas Ranked-Choice Voting Act. The bill would enact ranked-choice voting in Kansas elections including partisan primary and general elections, special elections, and nonpartisan primary and general elections. The bill states that RCV would assure elected officials have the support of a majority or near majority of voters and would allow "all voters to vote for their favorite candidate without fear of helping to elect their least favorite candidate."
2023 HB 2013
At the start of the 2023 session, the House Committee on Elections introduced HB 2013, "AN ACT concerning elections; requiring a runoff election between the top two vote-getting candidates for statewide office if no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast at a general election." At the January 24, 2023 committee hearing, the only proponent of the bill was the state representative who proposed it, Rep. Les Mason who stated that his concern was candidates winning statewide election without support from a majority of voters and therefore a mandate to govern. 15 people gave either spoken or written testimony in opposition to the bill and Secretary of State Schwab's office gave neutral testimony. The majority of opponents to the bill suggested that ranked-choice voting could be used to accomplish the same goal without the negative consequences of delayed runoff elections.
2020 Kansas Attorney General Opinion on RCV
On June 1, 2020, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt replied to a request from Kansas State Representative Adam Smith who asked "whether ranked-choice election methodology would be in violation of Article 4, § 1 of the Kansas Constitution and whether language would need to be added to the Kansas Constitution 'to clarify and allow ranked-choice election methodology' for calculating election results." Attorney General Schmidt answered that "we conclude that Article 4, § 1 of the Kansas Constitution prescribes the physical manner in which votes may be cast, but does not prescribe the manner in which votes are to be allocated to the candidates." The means that ranked-choice voting would not require any change to the Kansas Constitution since "the Kansas Constitution is silent on the manner in which votes are allocated to the candidates."
2019 Kansas Legislative Research Department RCV Summary
On April 4, 2019, the Kansas Legislative Research Department released a summary on ranked-choice voting. The summary provides an overview of how RCV works, where it has been implemented, the pros and cons of RCV, and the use of RCV in Maine.
2017 Special Committee on Elections Hearing on RCV
On October 27, 2017, the Kansas Legislature's 2017 Special Committee on Elections held a hearing on RCV. They heard testimony from:
Wendy Underhill, Program Director for the Elections and Redistricting Program, National Conference of State Legislatures. Ms. Underhill gave an overview of several election methods.
Rob Richie, Executive Director, FairVote. Mr. Richie explained RCV and answered concerns raised by some on the committee.
Senator Andre Cushing, Assistant Majority Leader for the Maine Senate. Senator Cushing described the use of RCV in Maine.
Kyle Bailey, The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. Mr. Bailey explained more about RCV including how it is calculated in Maine.
Connie Schmidt, member, Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center. Ms. Schmidt described use of RCV in Minneapolis elections and how to implement RCV, including suggestions on how to succeed with RCV in Kansas.
Providing public comment were private citizens Richard Pund, Beth Clarkson, and Steven Davis. Mr. Pund and Ms. Clarkson spoke in support of RCV and Mr. Davis expressed concerns. Rob Hodgkinson, representing the Libertarian Party of Kansas, spoke in favor of RCV. The ACLU submitted written testimony expressing concerns but stating that they are neutral on the subject.
The committee adjourned with no recommendation of change for the Kansas statutes and issued a Report of the Special Committee on Elections to the 2018 Kansas Legislature.
2020 KS Democratic Presidential Primary
After the 2016 Republican presidential primary in which 17 candidates competed, a total of 29 candidates filed to run in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. In response to the number of candidates and the growing calls around the nation for electoral reform, four states chose to use ranked-choice voting in part or all of their 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, and Kansas was one of the four.
The Kansas Democratic Party worked with FairVote and other reform organizations to change from the caucus system used in previous presidential elections to a primary conducted entirely through ranked-choice voting and mail-in voting. By April when voting for the primary started, the field had narrowed to only three candidates. Four candidates were listed on the ballots due to printing deadlines.
In preparation for the primary, Rank the Vote Kansas helped with public education by conducting community presentations on ranked-choice voting. As Rank the Vote Kanas was launching into a series of presentations across Kansas, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, canceling all but the first three presentations.
According to FairVote calculations, the 2020 Kansas Democratic presidential primary achieved over twice (276% more) the turnout of the 2016 Kansas Democratic presidential caucus. If ranked-choice voting had not been used, 11.8% of Kansas ballots would have been wasted on non-viable candidates.
"Double the elections, double the fun? Kansas weighs a move toward runoff elections." Topeka Capital-Journal. January 25, 2023.
"Better Choices." The Kansas City Star. January 22, 2023.
"Ranked Choice Voting: Best Plan for 2024 Presidential Primaries." Real Clear Politics. September 12, 2020.
"Ranked choice voting is a win-win solution for Kansas’ crowded primaries." Wichita Eagle. May 6, 2020.
"Why ranked-choice voting is like the Iowa caucuses — but an even better way to choose." The Fulcrum. February 3, 2020.
"Ranked-choice voting promotes clear consensus, ideological diversity." The University Daily Kansan. November 18, 2019.
"OPINION: The future of voting is ranked-choice." The Kansas State Collegian. November 10, 2019.
"Burdett Loomis: Common sense of ranked choice voting." Salina Journal. October 21, 2019.
"Bloody Kansas Primary Proves Why We Need Ranked Choice Voting." The American Conservative Magazine. August 12, 2020.
"Bob Beatty: Kansas GOP Senate angst has simple solution." Leavenworth Times. May 13, 2020.
"Ranked-choice voting in Kansas." Voice for Liberty. August 15, 2018.
"It’s Not a Fraud, Mr. President: I ran Kansas’s successful vote by mail primary. Here’s what I learned—and what states must do now." Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. August 6, 2020.
"Kansas Democrats triple primary turnout in 2020." Great Bend Tribune. May 5, 2020.
"Kansas Primary Is a Win for RCV Proponents." FairVote. May 5, 2020.
"Biden wins Kansas primary conducted with all-mail balloting amid virus lockdown." Times of Israel. May 3, 2020.
"Kansas 2020 Presidential Ranked Choice Primary Explained." Loud Light YouTube Channel. April 10, 2020.
"Missouri should follow Kansas out of electoral Dark Ages with ranked-choice voting." The Kansas City Star. March 30, 2020.
"Letter to the editor: Kansas made bold step with voting." The Ottawa Herald. March 28, 2020.
"Kansas primary election allows voters to rank candidates." KSN. March 6, 2020.
"Kansas Democrats to offer ranked-choice voting instead of caucuses in May." The Joplin Globe. February 29, 2020.
"Changes coming to Democratic primary." The Kansan. February 17, 2020.
"Kansas Democratic Party confident in new presidential primary voting system." WIBW. February 6, 2020.
"Moving away from traditional caucus, Johnson County Democrats will participate in ranked-choice presidential primary this year." Shawnee Mission Post. February 5, 2020.
"Kansas Already Picked the First Winner of the Democratic Primary." Portside. June 23, 2019.
"Kansas Democrats are planning ranked-choice voting for presidential primary." PBS NewsHour. June 11, 2019.
"Democrats plan to try ranked-choice voting in 2020 primary to select Trump’s opponent." Wichita Eagle. June 10, 2019.