Maine’s next gubernatorial election likely will be another race featuring more than two candidates. Consequently, many voters will be torn between voting for someone who they prefer but who probably cannot win (“throwing their vote away”) or voting strategically for someone who can win but is not their first choice (“choosing the lesser of two evils”).
This dilemma has an easy fix: ranked-choice voting.
Ranked-choice voting lets voters rank their choices by preference (1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.). If no candidate receives a majority of votes cast, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is eliminated. Ballots for this candidate are reassigned to the remaining candidates based on voters’ second choices, and the ballots are tallied again. The final round of tabulation creates a winner with majority support. This system would be used only in races with three or more candidates. It could be used for governor as well as U.S. and state senators and representatives.
Ranked-choice voting has other benefits beyond those mentioned above. It would reduce negative campaigning, which in turn would help get money out of politics, and it would give voters more meaningful choices as the level playing field would encourage candidates to focus on policy issues instead of mudslinging.
In 2011, voters in Portland elected their mayor with ranked-choice voting, and many voters in that election reported these favorable benefits.
Winners of nine of our last 11 gubernatorial elections failed to receive majority support. It’s time to change to ranked-choice voting in Maine. For more information or to get involved, visit www.rcvmaine.com.