Letter: "Ranked Choice Voting reinstates majority rule"

Houlton Pioneer Times

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We need to change the way we vote.

In our current system, majority rule is not a requirement and we have a hard time holding candidates accountable to real, substantive issues of public policy.  In fact, our elections are often characterized by mud-slinging, personal attacks and negative ads that stray from real issues and leave most voters disillusioned and frustrated by the political process.

These ugly campaign strategies are often reflected in elections outcomes, with winning candidates resorting to negative, “slash and burn” or “bait and switch” style campaigns that divide voters and command little more than 35% or 40% of the vote.

Faced with these problems, we need to implement a ranked choice voting system because it would reinstate majority rule, place a check and balance on out of control negative campaigning and effectively restore voter faith in election outcomes.

Ranked choice voting isn’t just right for our elections, it’s accessible, easy to understand and embraced by voters across the country.  Visualize going to the election booth and ranking the candidates for a given office in order of preference.  That’s your job as the voter in this system--that’s all you have to do.  There’s nothing confusing or complicated about that.  It’s been used locally in cities like Portland, ME where 94% of surveyed voters stated that the voting instructions and ballot design were “easy to understand”.

The movement for this system has inspired by the belief that voters should have the freedom to support their favorite candidates without penalty.  For this reason in particular, I believe ranked choice voting is vital for future elections because it allows voters to support their favorite candidates, without the fear of inadvertently helping to elect their least preferred candidate.  Most voters are familiar with this predicament--hamstrung by a choice between their favorite candidate, or the most electable candidate.  It’s happened often in our elections, with voters “wasting” their support on a “spoiler candidate”.

Over the last 15 years, the movement for ranked choice voting has been gaining momentum in Maine with bipartisan support in the Maine legislature, endorsements from nonpartisan groups like the League of Women Voters and the most recent backing of a citizen initiated referendum group, which will ask voters in November of 2016 to implement this system for federal and state primary and general elections beginning in 2018.

For more information on how ranked choice voting works, why we need i and how you can get involved in the movement, please visit www.fairvotemaine.org!

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