To the editor:
Three- and four-way races for public office are good for the marketplace of ideas. Voters have an opportunity to listen to more perspectives and candidates become engaged in more constructive debates about public policy.
Yet, when winning candidates only need a plurality of support to win, these kind of races foster a harmful dynamic within our elections. As demonstrated in the 2014 gubernatorial election, concerns about vote-splitting dominated the political conversation.
There was less focus on the merits of each candidate and more focus on who was electable and who was a spoiler. While this kind of campaigning should not be able to sustain itself, it thrives under the current system.
We need to start thinking critically about how election systems have consequences and how structural change can level the playing field in a way that empowers voters with real choices.
Don’t we want a system where voters can support a preferred candidate without the fear that, in doing so, they might risk helping to elect their least favorite candidate?
We have an opportunity to implement that kind of system here in Maine. Ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, eliminates the troubling dynamic of vote-splitting, which perpetuates negative campaigning and creates disillusionment with the political process.
To learn more about how ranked choice voting works and why we need it for our federal and state elections, visit the FairVote Maine page at www.fairvotemaine.org.