Letter: "Voters Deserve Real Choices"

Presque Isle Star Herald

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Plurality elections pose a number of problems these days. Voters no longer feel like they have real choices. They feel like they have to support an “electable candidate”--not someone who necessarily supports their core values. This creates a rift in our elections. As is often the case, we elect an official who commands a minority of support, while the losing candidates divide an entire base of potential support. Don't we deserve real choices? Don't we deserve an electoral system that doesn't penalize us for following our conscience instead of consensus?

Plurality elections work when two candidates run for office. Yet in Maine, a state where over a third of the electorate refuses to support any party, that is almost never the case. You can count on independents and strong third party candidates running for office. So why not institute an electoral system that reflects this reality?

In Maine, 9 of the last 11 winners of gubernatorial elections failed to receive a majority of the vote. For too long, candidates have only needed to satisfy and secure their party's respective base to win elections. In effect, our system has encouraged candidates to divide and conquer, resulting in unrepresentative winners.

Ranked choice voting returns power to the voters. Under this system of voting, candidates must set aside negative campaigning to reach beyond their base to appeal to a wider range of voters. Those who represent broader and moderate interests are successful, while those who push ideologically extreme boundaries on either side are penalized.

This isn't a liberal or conservative idea. This is about taking back our freedom at the polls. This is about restoring democracy. Join me in supporting the campaign for ranked choice voting in November 2016.

By Griffin Johnson - Hodgdon, ME

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