Independent Voter Project
Recently, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV Maine) hosted an A(us)A session on Reddit to increase awareness and support for its ballot measure to implement ranked choice voting in Maine.
According to RCV Maine, the movement is in response to the state’s “history of non-majority winners and elections defined by vote splitting and strategic voting.”
This proposed voting reform strives to right these wrongs not only in Maine, but eventually other areas that have similar historical records of unfair voting as well. If passed, Maine would be the first state to pass ranked choice voting for statewide elections.
Here are a few of the questions and answers discussed in the AMA:
1. “Do you believe Ranked Choice Voting is a solution to the root cause of the political crises in America, or is it simply a reform that, in the end, will be able to be manipulated by the two major parties?”
RCV Maine: “Our current voting system rewards candidates who are backed by special interests with big money. Candidates can win by turning out an enthusiastic base of supporters, and in races with more than two candidates, win with less than 40% of the vote. This is common in Maine. With Ranked Choice Voting, candidates must appeal more broadly to build majority coalitions and be acceptable to more voters. Candidates who don’t have the most money, but have good ideas, can participate in debates and join the conversation without being labeled as “spoilers” and told to “get out of the race.” If a majority of voters think that they are the best person for the job, they can win Ranked Choice Voting elections. It’s difficult for those candidates to win under the current system.”
2. “Does a rank choice system take some of the bite out of a “protest vote” because most people will end up ranking one of the two most popular candidates anyway?”
RCV Maine: “How many people won’t vote this year because they don’t like either major party nominee and the media says that Johnson or Stein “can’t win”? They are labeled as “spoiler candidates.” They won’t even be allowed to participate in the debates because they aren’t “legitimate.” (Those aren’t my words, they are the words used by pundits and pollsters and opinion makers.) What if voters were empowered to vote their hopes, not their fears, knowing that you’re not just registering a protest vote. If your first choice can’t win, you participate to help elect a candidate more broadly. That’s what Ranked Choice Voting allows and that’s why it’s a better system. In a democracy, you’re never going to everything you want, but if a majority of voters oppose a candidate, we shouldn’t be stuck with them. And if a majority of voters want someone other than the two candidates who the media say you must choose from, this system gives voters the power to make that decision.”
3. “Are there any [sic] disadvantages to ranked voting compared to our traditional way? If so, what are they?”
RCV Maine: “It can take longer to do a recount with Ranked Choice Voting, but it is a small price to pay to have a voting system that truly reflects the will of the voters and allows them to vote for candidates they prefer, without acting as a spoiler for candidates they dislike.”
4. “Are there committees in other states?”
RCV Maine: “The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting is unique to Maine, but the challenges facing our democracy and elections today are not. There are organizations in Minnesota (FairVote Minnesota) and California (FairVote California) that are working on Ranked Choice Voting in those states. And the League of Women Voters in a dozen states is working to advance Ranked Choice Voting.”
5. “Say I wanted to try to implement this locally at my hometown how should I start to go about it?”
RCV Maine: “Talk with your local League of Women Voters chapter. If they haven’t taken a position on Ranked Choice Voting, ask them to study it and help to lead that effort. Call your local elected officials and ask them to have coffee with you to discuss Ranked Choice Voting. Use social media to find other people in your area who have a passion for improving the political process…”
For more information on The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting and the work the group is doing in Maine, visit its website here.
By Courtney Pittam