Statement from Chairman Dick Woodbury

Voters to Decide Citizen Initiative in November 2016

Thank you for putting yourself out there – talking to people and collecting signatures – to advance ranked choice voting. It’s amazing how many volunteers turned in petitions last week! 

The most recent wave of petitions are now being validated by city and town clerks. When all of the signatures have been counted, more than 61,000 Maine voters will have signed the petition for ranked choice voting. This is a remarkable achievement. Congratulations and thank you for all that you’ve done to help us reach this milestone! 

As you may know from participating in one of our recent conference calls with supporters, we’ve been weighing the option whether to put this question before voters in 2015 or 2016. In the end, there are two primary reasons we’ve decided on 2016. 

First, we need more time to educate voters about how ranked choice voting works, and why it matters. While ranked choice voting has been percolating as an idea in Maine for over a decade, it’s still a new idea to a lot of people. The 2016 elections gives us time to deepen public understanding about ranked choice voting and to collaborate with state and local election officials to develop processes for its implementation. 

Second, we’re also sensitive to the differences between an off-year election like 2015, when voter turnout is typically very low, and a presidential election year like 2016, when voter turnout is highest. It feels more consistent with a democracy-improving reform to give the largest number of voters – at least a majority – an opportunity to make this decision. 

Our plan for the next 22 months is to talk with voters one-on-one about ranked choice voting. We will address their questions and concerns – and those from town and city clerks, poll workers and elected officials. Our goal is to ensure that Mainers have the information that they need to make an informed decision about this issue when they vote on Election Day 2016. 

Again, thank you for all that you’ve done to help us reach this point. We look forward to talking with you over the coming weeks about how you can continue to be a part of this reform effort. 

Warmest wishes, 

Dick Woodbury

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