On July 9, a letter was printed in The Times Record by a gentleman who urged Mainers to reject ranked choice voting, stating that ranked choice voting “is a means for Democrats to stuff the ballot box in their favor.” He evidently does not understand the actual method by which the votes are counted, so I want to thank Nancy Randolph for her guest column in the July 17 Times Record, titled “Ranked Choice Voting Eliminates ‘Spoiler Effect,’” steering him, and others, to a blog posted by the League of Women Voters in Maine.
For those without internet access, please let me give an example to clarify the system. Using A, B and C as our candidates, the voter ranks them according to his preference on a single ballot: Let’s say B is the voter’s first choice, C is second and then A.
In the first ballot count, in this example, let’s give Candidate A 28 percent of the votes, B receives 40 percent and C 32 percent — but in this system, to be declared the winner, one candidate must receive over 50 percent — a clear majority.
A second count is necessary, but it’s an instant run-off: Candidate A, with the least number of votes, is dropped from the field, but the votes that Candidate A received then got to the voters’ second choices, giving every voter only one vote that counts, but letting their voice still be heard.
In the second round of counting, Candidate B still receives the initial 40 percent, but gains another 5 percent (from the portion of votes cast initially for Candidate A) for a total of 45 percent, while 23 percent of those who had vote for A, had chosen Candidate C as their second choice, giving the latter a 55 percent majority.
One trip to the polls — every vote counted, once — every voters’ voice heard: Isn’t that what democracy is all about?