LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — There are three ballot initiatives for the 2022 Nevada election and one initiative has Nevadans asking the most questions. Question 3 would create an open primary and ranked-choice voting for Nevada primary elections.

What is ranked choice voting?

Ranked-choice voting would first create an open primary, meaning a vote can be cast for anyone on the ticket regardless of party affiliation.

As of now, voters can only vote for Republican candidates if they are registered as Republican and Democratic candidates if they are registered as Democrats.

The top five candidates from the primary would then go on to the general election. In the general election, voters would rank them from one to five. If someone gets more than 50% of the votes in the general election, they win.

If no one gets more than 50%, then the election goes to an instant run-off. The candidate with the fewest votes gets eliminated and then the voter’s second choice will get their vote. This will continue until someone has more than 50% of the votes.

8 News Now spoke with Mike Draper with Nevada Voters First, who is in favor of ranked-choice voting, to discuss the most common questions and misconceptions he gets about ranked-choice voting. 8 News Now also had a conversation with Bradley Schrager, who is against question 3, to discuss the argument against ranked-choice voting.

What are the most common questions surrounding ranked choice voting?

Draper said that the most common misconception about ranked-choice voting is that it is a new system. According to Draper, 55 jurisdictions around the country use ranked-choice voting.

“We have seen that voters turn out in greater numbers, that voters feel like it’s simple, it’s pretty simple,” Draper said. “This is about giving people more choice and more voice.”

When asked what the top “selling point” of ranked-choice voting is, Draper said nearly 40% of Nevada voters are not registered to a major party, which translates to about 700,000 people. This means that about 700,000 voters can not vote in the primary elections.

“People are frustrated, they feel disenfranchised. Voters feel like, often times they are choosing between the lesser of two evils,” Draper stated. “Those 700,000 voters can’t vote in the primary. We have less than 20% of the electorate that turns out for the primary. That means less than 20% is making decisions for 100% of us.”

Draper states that it shouldn’t matter about the party, but representing the majority.

Schrager contended that describing ranked-choice for the first time to a person is confusing and complex.

“Our state has, for a long time run really good elections,” Schrager explained. “Any time you add confusion and complexity to the voting system, you’re going to get a drop off in participation.”

Schrager said the main concern is that voters will be confused and turned off by the new voting protocols or will simply not understand the system properly. He cites Alaska’s run-off election as evidence that the system could create problems.

According to Schrager, every voter has had a choice when registering, and that those voters are comfortable with their choice.

“I would say there’s no real reason to change the system that has been working for so long,” Schrager said. “Especially to put it into the constitutio

Why do both parties oppose ranked choice voting?

Draper states that both parties oppose ranked-choice voting because of the open primary and ranked-choice voting.

“I think it’s because of both, right? I truly think it’s because of both. We have a system that the parties have learned to operate in and that’s fine,” Draper said. “But, parties have become more important than people and it’s time for the parties to evolve.”

Draper states that both parties can thrive and succeed with ranked choice voting if they evolve by finding candidates and creating platforms that represent the majority instead of the vocal minority.

Nevada had something similar to ranked-choice voting in the presidential caucus in 2020 and Draper believes this will help people understand the system a little better.

“Show some of the examples where ranked-choice voting works and show how people embrace and people have liked it and how it truly has created a different kind of campaigning. Campaigning that is based on policies and issues and the majority and not based on the minority, and is divisive,” Draper said.

Schrager said that two thirds of Nevadans still belong to political parties.

“They belong to those parties for a reason,” Schrager said. “I think that most Democrats or Republicans would prefer that members of their party determine who their nominees are.

There is also concern of particular political parties being shut out of some races completely.

Will ranked-choice voting cost more for cities and counties?

The Legislative Council Bureau has said there will be an incremental fee for ranked choice voting however Draper says that they do not see or anticipate that happening.

“Even if there was an increase, it would be nominal, but we are talking about suppressing 700,000 voices in the primary. We are talking about less than 20% making decisions for 100%,” Draper stated. “I think regardless of what the cost is, remedying that is worth it.”

Can independents compete in an open primary?

Schrager contended that the money required to compete with other big-party candidates would limit opportunities for independents and small-parties in the state.

“Imagine if you would that instead of primaries and then general elections as we have now, imagine for example that Senator Cortez Masto and Adam Laxalt had to face off twice,” Schrager said. “The money that it would take for both of those elections, because both of those candidates will try very hard, and there may be other Republicans and other Democrats as well in the race. There’s simply very little chance that independent candidates for smaller parties are going to be able to compete on that level with the major parties.”

Schrager argued that question 3 could, in fact, lead to more of the same voices in politics crowding out independent voices.

What should people know going into the 2022 election?

“We have primary elections right now because those are closed primary, they are funded by all Nevada taxpayers, but our largest voting block can’t vote in those. We have very few Nevada voters making decisions for all Nevada voters. We have elected officials right now who don’t feel like they are incentivizing, they can’t win elections by representing the majority, they have to represent their vocal minority. This fixes those problems. This evolves our voting system so we can have more choices, more voice for all of Nevada.”

Mike Draper with Nevada Voters First

“The proponents have stayed away from talking about the ranked-choice part and have focused on the open primary. That’s fine, that’s their choice, they’re running a campaign. But I think that indicates that at least half of this initiative is not terribly popular, and might drag down the rest of the question.”

“Upwards of eight percent of the votes in [Alaska’s] run-off election over the summer either didn’t count or had to be thrown out due to the confusion of the voter, or the fact that they didn’t vote all the way down so that their actual choice didn’t appear in the final count.”

Bradley Schrager “No” on Q3