Letter: "I support ranked choice voting"

Lincoln County News

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Dear Editor: 

I would like to encourage everybody to support ranked choice voting (also called instant-runoff voting), a method of voting designed to ensure a majority rule without the need for a separate runoff election. Petitions are currently being circulated in order to get this referendum on the ballot for 2016.

Ranked choice voting has many benefits. Winning candidates can rightly claim a mandate to lead. The importance of "strategic voting" is reduced as voters are empowered with real chances to support their preferred candidates. Negative campaigning is toned down as candidates have to work not just for first, but also second choice rankings.

As we have seen on too many occasions, multi-candidate races produce "minority winners". In fact, since 1974, Maine has had 9 elections where the winning governor got less than 50% of the vote and 5 elections where the winning candidate for governor got less than 40%. "Minority winners" include Governors LePage (R), Baldacci (D), King (I), Longley (I), McKernan (R) and Brennan (D). 

Ranked choice voting in Maine would be used in primary and general election races with three or more candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor and Maine Senate and House.

The voting system has been successfully used in cities across the country such as Portland and Minneapolis and abroad, as well as in national elections in Australia and Ireland. Trinidad and Tobago has also recently established RCV.

If you have internet access, you can go to FairVote.org for a lot more information, or to voteminneapolismn.gov for an actual hands on experience.

We should thank the League of Women Voters of Maine who started the movement in Maine back in the early 2000s. RCV has had bipartisan support across Maine and the country. In November 2016, Mainers will hopefully have an opportunity to vote on this reform at the polls.

Joyce Polyniak


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