Letter: "Ranked Choice Voting returns power to the voter"

Piscataquis Observer

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To the Editor:

The time has come to replace our current, plurality voting system with ranked choice voting because we need more power for voters, more civility between the candidates and more accountability on the issues.  Ranked choice voting helps us get there by eliminating the "spoiler effect", the scenario when three or more candidates run for office and prevent the winner from obtaining a majority of support.

The consequence of the "spoiler effect" is an increase in negative campaigning.  When candidates only need 35 or 40 percent of the vote to win an election, there is little incentive to build a broad base of support.  You can go negative with a "slash and burn" style campaign and still expect to win an election.

When we get rid of the "spoiler effect", voters retain the freedom to support their favorite candidates.  How many times have you wanted to support an Independent candidate, or Libertarian candidate, or a Green candidate, but thought twice about it because you figured that your support would go to waste, or worse, help to elect your least favorite candidate?  With ranked choice voting, a third party is a viable alternative.  Candidates benefit from this change as well.  Without the "spoiler effect" there would be less focus on "horse-race" politics and more judgement based on meaningful standards like the merits of a candidate's leadership capability and platform of issues.  Candidates with a mix of conservative and liberal ideologies could present their ideas without having to ride the party line, and still have a chance to win!

The current system is not sustainable.  It's not good for the voters, the candidates or the overall health of the system.  If voters don't have real choices, if candidates don't have real platforms and, if we can't expect to elect winners with a majority of support, how can we expect to reduce gridlock and get things done in Augusta and Washington?

For more information on ranked choice voting, why we need it and how it works, please visit fairvotemaine.org


Paul Johnson

Presque Isle

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