Letter: "Support for Ranked Choice Voting"

Machias Valley News Observer

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I strongly believe that we deserve to have leaders that represent a majority of the electorate. Yet over the last 40 years, 9 of the last 11 gubernatorial elections have put a governor in office without a majority vote. This is a problem for such an important position. Fortunately, there is a system out there that can enforce a stronger standard without creating the added taxpayer expense and burden of a second, “runoff” election.

The most reasonable reform involves a switch to a system called ranked choice voting, which has voters use their ballots to simply rank candidates running for an office, in order of preference. This is meaningful in elections with more than 2 candidates, a common event in our state.

Here’s how it works: if three candidates run for an office and no candidate gets a majority of first choice support, the last place candidate is eliminated. This allows for the opportunity to then look back at the second choices of those who did not vote for the top 2 candidates. When the voters who supported the eliminated candidate have their second choices applied to the totals of the top 2 candidates, this system gives us a clear majority winner.

It is interesting that cities like Lewiston and Portland already require a majority vote for their mayoral candidates. However, in Lewiston, they use an expensive and inefficient “runoff” system. Whereas in Portland, they use a ranked choice system that achieves a majority vote in a single election. This system has worked very well for their city.

In November of 2016, we will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum question asking voters whether to use this system for statewide elections. Already, over 250 current and former elected officials from both sides of the aisle have come forward to lend their endorsement for this ballot initiative. With the momentum for this important vote in mind, I ask that Mainers of all political stripes continue to rally in support of this movement.

- Anne Perry

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