Letter: We Need and Deserve Ranked Choice Voting

The Free Press

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Over the course of the past 15 years, Mainers have been evaluating alternative voting systems for good reason — 9 of our last 11 governors weren’t elected by a majority of voters. We need to do better and the good news is we can. When we survey the alternatives, Ranked Choice Voting is the most inclusive, cost-effective, and practical method to ensure that our leaders are elected with a majority vote.

I’ve got a few favorite features of Ranked Choice Voting, but in the land of independent thinkers and makers, Mainers deserve a voting system that invites candidates to run on a platform they really believe in. I want candidates who advocate for the change and policies they want to usher in, regardless of what their party encourages. I want a multitude of candidates with a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and ideas to be running without fearing they will split the votes of like-minded candidates.  

The 2011 Portland, Maine mayoral campaign of Michael Brennan best illustrates the potential. When Brennan was going door to door and talking with voters about his candidacy, he encountered homes with his opponents’ lawn signs. In the current system, those lawn signs would be an indication to avoid those voters because they had already made up their minds. But because Portland had a ranked choice system, he wanted to engage with those voters to find out where they could find common ground and to learn how he might win the second or third choice slot on their ballot. I’ve gotta believe candidates become more open in their thinking and inclusive in their policy development and voting when they engage with folks outside of their parties’ wheelhouse of support. Ultimately, I want a system that would benefit more consensus-driven, collaborative elected officials, which we clearly need in gridlocked Augusta and Washington.  Over the years, the League of Women Voters of Maine have performed a substantial amount of research on why Ranked Choice Voting would make sense for Maine. They’ve convinced me, and I bet if your readers explore the research, they will join us in advocating for the most democratic vehicle for elections out there, www.lwvme.org/RCV.html.  

Chris Michael

Lincolnville

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