Editorial: "IRV: A More Democratic Way To Vote"

West End News

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 Submitted by Nils Werner

We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: “61% did not vote for Governor Lepage”. While that margin shrank in 2014, the Governor once again failed to secure more than 50% of the vote, yet is spending a second term in the Blaine House. 

In all fairness however, Governor Lepage wasn’t the first candidate to win our gubernatorial election with less than a mandate. In fact, LePage’s election and reelection are part of a long legacy of “minority winners” in Maine’s gubernatorial race.

Both major parties, as well as some independent candidates, have benefited from the broken system of plurality elections. John Baldacci was elected in 2006 with a measly 38% of the vote, and Angus King won in 1994 with only 35%. 

Other minority governors include Joseph Brennan, James Longley and John McKernan. In the last forty years alone, only two nominees have won a gubernatorial election with real majority support from Mainers.

Regardless of whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian or Independent, I think we all agree that our elected officials should have a mandate, a majority of support from Maine voters in order to pursue their policy agenda. 

Yet many of us find ourselves checking the box for the candidate we believe to have the best chance of winning instead of the candidate we hold to be the most qualified. This has created a culture of strategic voting and minority winners which only further underlines our differences rather than our
common values. It has fostered a culture of division, hyper-partisanship and gridlock.

These are the real, costly consequences of an electoral system that cannot support three-way races and rewards candidates who can dump millions of dollars into negative ad campaigns and only have to appeal to a narrow base of partisan support. 

It is time that we replaced a system that prods you to vote for the candidate with the best chance
of winning, with one where we all vote for the candidate we know to be the most qualified. I believe it is time we took steps to ensure this happens. 

Like you, I don’t want a leader who governs for only a third of the state. I want one that governs on behalf of the entire state.

Ranked choice isn’t just a different way to cast votes, it’s a more democratic way to elect our officials. It is a way to beat back the thick cloud of cynicism that is surrounding our politics by returning real choice to Maine voters. 

By adopting Ranked Choice voting, we would not only be able to support the candidate we genuinely believe to be most qualified without fear, but ensure that all our elected government officials have a mandate from Mainers to govern and set good public policy. 

We deserve to be both represented and governed by those who actually share the majority of Mainers values, not by those who pander to a small minority of it. 

This is why I will support the ranked choice voting initiative when it goes on the ballot in 2016,
and I urge you to do the same.

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