I really do not like fighting with my friends.
I have a great deal of respect for Burt Jones. He’s taken some outstanding leadership positions as Lieutenant Governor, especially around issues important to me like school choice and his effort to cut the bureaucratic red tape for people who want to own and run their own business. I worked on both of these as a member of the House and both are issues near and dear to my heart. He’s had some really good initiatives; some really good policies.
This week the LG issued a press release touting his support for a bill to ban ranked choice voting in Georgia. Maybe in another piece I will explain that ranked choice voting is only allowable by current law in one instance and this bill actually carves out an exception to keep ranked choice voting in place. But for now I think it is enough to simply say that it appears to me at this point that LG Jones has been misinformed by groups from outside of Georgia.
From his press release, “‘Ranked choice voting is designed to cause confusion and fatigue among voters,’ said Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones. ‘This type of voting system pushed by dark money groups could cause a drastic increase in the number of ballots being thrown out, disenfranchising Georgia voters. Georgians deserve to have the utmost faith in their elections and those pushing ranked choice voting are only hindering that faith I am proud to ban this electoral disaster and work to make Georgia’s elections the safest in the nation.'”
So what you need to know first and foremost is that there is no dark money group leading the effort to expand Georgia’s use of Ranked Choice Voting in Georgia. It’s me, Scot Turner. I’m the guy. Eternal Vigilance Action (EVA) is the organization I work for and we have multiple issues that we work on. In fact I was honored to give the RCV Ban Author, Senator Randy Robertson, an award for carrying legislation I worked on behalf of families of cold case murder victims.
That’s not me just blowing my own smoke. That’s according to everybody who’s ever issued a scorecard; everybody who’s ever measured who was conservative ideologically. I am in the top 10, 15 people to have served in the Georgia House of Representatives on the conservative side. The American Conservative Union, Foundation for Government Accountability, Faith and Freedom, National Federation of Independent Businesses, you name it and I score among the most conservative people ever to serve in the Georgia General Assembly.
And when it comes to making sure Georgian’s have confidence in their elections, I don’t think anyone was willing to pay a steeper political price than me; I’m the only Republican, in either chamber, to vote against bringing Dominion voting machines to Georgia. I said at the time I cast that vote that no one would trust the QR codes. And that vote cost me dearly. Perhaps that too is a story better told at a different time.
So again, I am the one, “pushing for ranked choice voting,” and faith in elections is a corner stone to all of my elections work.
I created EVA as a way to continue to work on the issues I worked on while I served in the legislature. Elections just happens to be one of them. And the reason why I want to get rid of runoff elections is because there are real problems with our runoff.
Any time there is a state wide runoff, it costs $75 million out of local coffers to pay for those elections. And you inevitably get massive drop offs in turnout. The Lieutenant Governor points out that voters are disenfranchised with Ranked Choice Voting, however, no system disenfranchises voters more than what we use in Georgia today and our current runoff system. We have seen runoff elections where 500,000-750,000 people do not return to express their second choice, or to see their first choice vote discarded as if it never happened. Ranked choice voting is actually a massive improvement over that.
And so with ranked choice voting you have a cost benefit, a participation benefit, and you get more representative results. And I think that’s good for the voter first and foremost, but it’s also good for Republicans like Burt Jones.
So I am not going to go to war with Burt on this. I know, I know… that’s not my MO, right? I’ve been labeled as the guy who’s going to go to war every time somebody disagrees with me. But the truth is I never actually tried to operate that way. And some of the people, (see the Senator Robertson reference above) who have signed on to this piece of legislation are my friends. And so I really don’t want to be in a position where I’m combating them. So I’m choosing to be a happy warrior on this issue.
What I will do is actually express a great amount of gratitude for LG Jones bringing this issue to the forefront. Because every time I have the opportunity to discuss replacing our runoffs with ranked choice voting with Republicans or anybody across the ideological spectrum, the facts are the facts and they make sense.
And the arguments that are put forth in this press release indicate to me that Burt has been misinformed. And being misinformed is a forgivable offense. If you have bad information and you act on that information, then it’s my responsibility to make sure you have the right information so you can come to the right conclusion.
And that’s what I plan to do over the coming weeks in reaction to Burt’s stance on rank choice voting. I am grateful for this opportunity, because I will be in committee. I will be talking with every legislator in in the Senate, and I will be telling them why rank choice voting makes sense to solve our runoff problem.
And just a note about the groups opposing ranked choice voting not just in Georgia, but nationally. They ain’t from around here. They don’t live here and they have area codes like 202. And while they don’t live here, I do. I’m in my home state, on my home turf, advocating for my neighbors. It’s me.