A real movement is developing here in Maine to establish ranked-choice voting for Maine elections.
Why should we consider it? The “majority rules” concept is fundamental to a democracy, and a majority is 50 percent plus one vote. We have come to realize that the “winners” are being put in office by a minority of votes, not a majority. Here are some numbers to demonstrate how our current two-party system put Paul LePage in the governor’s seat with a minority of votes.
In the 2014 race for governor, 611,148 votes were cast among the three candidates. LePage got 48.2 percent of those votes. While it was the most of the three candidates, it was not a majority. Since only about two-thirds of registered voters participated in the election, his share represented only 30.5 percent of registered voters in Maine. This doesn’t account for the eligible voters who aren’t registered to vote. Third-party candidates in our two-party electoral system have precluded a majority-based process putting them in the role of spoilers, thereby limiting their voices in the debate.
Ranked-choice voting encourages more people to register and to participate because they know that their vote will result in a majority decision no matter how many candidates are running. Greater participation facilitates a democracy based on a greater diversity of thinking.
Ranked-choice voting assures that the winner of the election has earned a majority of votes, whether that candidate was a voter’s first, second or third choice. It is time for a change to ranked-choice voting.