Bangor Daily News
During every election cycle, the angry cry of “spoiler” arises from the two major political parties. Maine can solve this problem through a referendum-initiated change called ranked choice voting. Here’s how it works.
In a hypothetical three-way race, voters would rank the candidates in numerical order of their preference. Ballot counters first would tally up all voters’ No. 1 choice. If no candidate has a majority — 50 percent plus 1 — after this round, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated. Ballots for this candidate then are reassigned to the other candidates whom they ranked their No. 2 choice. It continues until one candidate emerges with a majority.
For example, in the 2010 gubernatorial race, candidate Shawn Moody received 5 percent of the vote, Kevin Scott 1 percent, Libby Mitchell 19 percent, Eliot Cutler 36.7 percent and Paul LePage 38.1 percent. The No. 2 choice of all Scott voters would have been distributed to the other 4 candidates — not enough for a majority. The No. 2 choice for Moody then would have been distributed to the other three candidates — again, not a majority.
Mitchell being the remaining noncompetitive candidate, the No. 2 choice of all Mitchell voters would have been distributed to the two remaining candidates, with one emerging with a majority. In this way, the outcome might well have been the same or might have favored Cutler. Either way, the majority of the voters would have spoken.