In the last 40 years, nine of the last 11 winning candidates for governor in Maine were elected by fewer than 50 percent of the votes cast, many with even fewer than 40 percent of the votes. This has fostered cynicism about the legitimacy of these elected officials to represent the majority of the voters and has contributed to increased division and ill will between the political parties.

This November voters will have the opportunity to revise Maine’s election process by adopting ranked-choice voting in elections for Congress, governor and the state Legislature. This change will insure that these office holders are elected by a majority vote.

The process is simple and inexpensive: each voter will be able to cast a single ballot indicating their first, second, third (and so on) choice for candidates — hence “ranked-choice voting.” Tabulating votes is a bit more complex and consists of sequential rounds of “instant run-offs” in which the last-place candidate is defeated, and each ballot is recounted for the highest ranked candidate still undefeated. This continues until only two candidates are left undefeated, and the winner is the one with the most votes.

Not only will ranked-choice voting insure that candidates are elected by a majority of the voters, but evidence from places already using this procedure indicates that campaigns tend to be more civil. There is less of an incentive to use negative ads and scorched earth politics if candidates know they may need a voter’s second- or third-place vote. Wouldn’t that be nice!

David Blocher