Letter: "Ranked choice a better way to decide Maine’s elections"

Portland Press Herald

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Click here to read copy in Rockland Free Press

Maine is known for independent voters and politicians. It’s a history to be proud of, but it has caused a lot of multi-candidate splits and electoral surprises when candidates win with less than 50 percent of the vote – leading, in turn, to State House stalemates and doubts about whether voting here really reflects the will of the people at all.

Among various suggested solutions, the best fix would be to adopt a ranked-choice election system, also known as “preferential voting,” which allows voters to choose more than one candidate, ranking them in terms of preference. It ensures that only a candidate preferred by a majority of voters will win.

Learn more about ranked choice at www.rcvmaine.com, or do your own research on the Internet. Along the way, you’ll find out that ranked choice was invented in New England, that it’s used internationally and in some U.S. cities, and that it has benefits beyond simply ensuring a majority win.

Ranked choice doesn’t favor any party. It avoids the cost and uncertainty of runoffs. It could even increase voter participation. Why? Because it will make people feel voting might actually matter. Their vote won’t get discounted by a splintering process they can’t predict or prevent; their vote is also less likely to be pre-empted by a poll.

Let’s double down on the independent tradition in Maine and get ranked choice on the ballot for high-profile state and congressional elections with more than two candidates.

Portland already elects its mayor by ranked choice. If Maine as a whole goes this way, it will be the first state in the nation to do so. Then think about the current fractured presidential primaries.

Maybe in the future, Maine could set an example for getting ranked choice established nationally. That would be independent leadership indeed.

Barbara Bell


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