The Bangor Daily News
Forty years ago, with nothing more than paper and pencil, I was part of a team running student elections at my college. With at least six candidates for each post, we used a form of ranked-choice voting, known as the “single transferable vote,” to ensure the most popular candidates were elected to each position.
Since then, I have questioned why our electorate allows itself to be kept in the straitjacket of a single choice. If I wish to support the Green or Libertarian Party candidates, why should that also disqualify me from expressing a preference between the Democratic and Republican candidates?
Most voters don’t like being forced into a two-way choice. They want to fully express their preferences and have a level playing field that allows all candidates to be fairly evaluated. If we had ranked-choice voting, this would all be institutionalized.
In races with more than two candidates, the major benefit of ranked-choice voting is the election of the most acceptable candidate, instead of the least preferable one. But this system has also been shown to revolutionize voter engagement by encouraging candidates to reach beyond their core supporters to attract the preferences of a broader base in order to earn a majority vote.
By adopting ranked-choice voting, Maine would be taking another appropriate step towards modernizing our election system. Our society is too diverse and complex to be confined to two realistic choices each election cycle. Join me in the movement for 21st-century voting.