I support the effort to institute ranked-choice voting in Maine.
Under our current voting system (plurality voting), it is possible for a candidate receiving less than 50 percent of the vote to be elected to public office. In fact, the winners in nine of the last 11 gubernatorial elections in Maine failed to receive majority support; some races have been won with less than 40 percent of the vote.
Ranked-choice voters rank their choices based on individual preference. If no candidate receives a majority (50 percent, plus one) of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes has lost and is eliminated. Ballots for this candidate are assigned to the remaining candidates based on those voter’s second choice, and the ballots are tallied again. In a three-person race, we now have a winner with majority support in the final round of tabulation.
Ranked-choice voting eliminates “spoilers.” Ranked-choice voting allows voters to support their favorite candidate as their first choice without fearing that they are throwing away their vote. Ranked-choice favors no political party and levels the playing field for all candidates, and encourages them to take their case directly to the voters. Ranked-choice is likely to reduce negative advertising, as ranked-choice candidates must ask for second-, and perhaps even third-choice rankings. Voters are less likely to rank as their second- or third-choice a candidate who has gone negative on their preferred candidate.
The notion of ranked- choice voting is not new; it is used elsewhere in this country and in other places in the world. Ranked-choice voting legislation has been introduced in the Maine Legislature since 2001, and is gaining support among Republican, Democratic, and independent lawmakers.
For more information about ranked-choice voting, visit fairvotemaine.org.