The Times Record
Have you ever been torn as to how to vote in a three-way race, not because you weren’t sure which candidate you liked best but because that candidate seemed likely to finish third and you had a strong preference between the two candidates that seemed to have a chance of winning? Perhaps, like me, you reluctantly voted for your second choice in hopes of preventing the election of a candidate you with whom you strongly disagreed. It doesn’t have to be that way.
One solution, though not the best one, would be a run-off election between the top two vote-getters. Then you could vote for your first choice and if he or she finished third, you’d have the chance to vote for your second choice later.
But run-off election would be expensive and would require you to go to the polls twice. A better option is ranked choice voting, sometimes called an instant runoff. You could vote for your first choice and at the same time choose your second choice. If your first choice finishes third, your vote goes to your second choice candidate. (If there are more than three candidates, you could also specify your third choice, etc.)
Ranked choice voting has been used successfully in a number of U.S. cities, including Portland. Thanks to the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting, which collected the required signatures for a ballot initiative, we will be able to vote this November to use ranked choice voting in future statewide elections. They are continuing to work to inform voters about the referendum and work for its passage. Another group, called FairVote Maine, a partner of the League of Women Voters, is working to educate the public on this issue.
Many voters still do not understand ranked choice voting and people tend to vote no on questions they don’t understand. The two groups mentioned above need volunteers and adequate funding. I urge you to join me in donating time and/or money to this cause. To find out how, or just to learn more about this issue, go to www.rcvmaine.com or www.fairvotemaine.org.