From the Legislature: Ranked-choice voting – a straightforward election reform

Lincoln County News

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How simple and straightforward is ranked-choice voting, Question 5 on the November ballot?

The complete legislation to enact it, which includes detailed definitions and processes and legal jargon, is two pages in length. That’s short. In fact, it’s so short that it was printed in its entirety on each petition page, so voters were able to read it before signing their names to place it on the ballot.

Read the bill language for yourself at

Some of my colleagues in the Maine Legislature and Gov. LePage are attempting to convince voters that ranked-choice voting is cumbersome. In truth, ranked-choice voting presents the most cost-effective and efficient way to conduct runoffs, which are necessary to restore majority rule when no candidate receives an outright majority. Ranked-choice voting works just like actual runoffs without the cost and delay. In each round of tabulation, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and your vote counts for the candidate you ranked highest among those competing, as it should be.

Some of these opponents have suggested that we should adopt actual runoff elections as an alternative to ranked-choice voting.

Let’s be clear: actual runoff elections are the most expensive way to conduct runoffs. They extend the campaign season and delay results by four more weeks.

�They result in an average 35 percent decline in voter participation. Actual runoff elections also disenfranchise absentee and overseas voters, including the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who are stationed abroad.

Only ranked-choice voting allows absentee and overseas voters to fully participate in runoffs. Only ranked-choice voting eliminates the “spoiler effect” in elections and gives voters the freedom to vote for their favorite candidate without worrying that they will help to elect their least favorite candidate – to vote your hopes, not your fears.

Every municipality still counts ballots on election night to determine voters’ first-choice rankings. If that doesn’t result in a majority winner, then ballots are tabulated in rounds until a majority winner emerges. This process is modeled after the recount process. Watch a 45-second video that explains how ranked-choice voting works and why it matters at

Share this video with friends and tell them to vote “yes” on Question 5 this November to restore majority rule, eliminate the “spoiler effect,” and give voters more choice and more voice in our democracy.

(Sen. Chris Johnson, D-Somerville, represents all of Lincoln County except Dresden, plus Washington and Windsor.)

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