We’re going to have a referendum on ranked choice voting next year, and signatures are being gathered.
Many years ago, I learned that I was throwing my vote away when I cast it for a third-party candidate who had little chance of winning. That way I had helped my least favorite candidate to win. As a result, I have since then often voted for candidates who I didn’t like much but who were better than the alternative. Bummer!
The answer to this problem, which many of us have experienced, is to have an instant runoff system, also called “ranked choice voting,” when there are more than two candidates. It’s a simple method that voters learn very easily. In fact, 94 percent of voters surveyed in the 2011 Portland, Maine, mayoral election said the ballot design and voting instructions were “easy to understand.” We can vote for our favorite candidate without wasting our vote if that candidate doesn’t win, because then our second choice immediately gets our vote.
Whoever wins can claim a true mandate because the rankings system provides unprecedented insight into what the electorate is really thinking. This voting method does not favor any party. Because this reform would take effect in both primaries and general elections, candidates from all parties would have to be more moderate to attract a broad base of support. And by competing for first and second choice rankings, candidates are also discouraged from attacking each other with those negative ads that we all hate. I urge all to support this important change.