Portland Press Herald
I support ranked-choice voting because it gives Mainers a stronger voice in choosing their elected leaders, and it ensures that voters get what they want on Election Day. Please join me in voting “yes” on Question 5 to enact this common-sense reform in our state.
Maine hasn’t elected a governor to a first term with majority support since 1966. That’s because our current voting method, “winner take all,” was not designed to accommodate races with more than two candidates, which have been common in our state for over 40 years.
This is problematic for our state because the way we vote now often denies governors a mandate to lead; officials elected with votes totaling less than a majority often are delegitimized by the majority of voters who did not choose them; and legislative leadership may question their authority.
Simply put, the will of the people is not clear when our state’s governor, or any other officeholder, can get elected with less than 40 percent of the vote.
Ranked-choice voting restores majority rule and makes the will of the people known.
By giving voters the power to rank candidates, ranked-choice voting also encourages candidates to reach beyond their base and appeal more broadly for support, thus making politicians more accountable to Mainers and less accountable to powerful political interests.
Ranked-choice voting eliminates “the spoiler effect” and gives voters more voice and more choice in elections. You have the freedom to rank your favorite candidate as your first choice without worrying that you will help elect your least favorite candidate.
The process of counting the votes is straightforward, too. Ballots are counted in rounds in which last-place candidates are eliminated until one candidate reaches a majority and wins. In each round, your vote always counts for the candidate you ranked highest among those still competing. If your favorite candidate is eliminated during this “instant runoff” process, your vote is instantly counted for your second choice, so you never feel like your vote is “wasted.”
Ranked-choice voting works like actual runoff elections without the cost, delay and decline in voter participation that is documented with actual runoff elections. You can watch a 45-second video that explains what ranked-choice voting is, why it matters and how it works online.
Ranked-choice voting is tested and proven. It has been used around the world for 100 years, and across the United States for decades. Voters in Portland have used ranked-choice voting since 2011 with tremendous success.
Opponents have raised questions about this proposal’s cost, confusion and constitutionality. Here are the simple facts:
n Cost: Ranked-choice voting is the most cost-effective and efficient way to conduct a runoff election. It works just like actual runoff elections without the cost, delay and decline in voter participation that come with actual runoff elections. Question 5 would cost $550,000 to implement statewide. The alternative – actual runoff elections – would cost much more and impose most of the financial burden on cities and towns.
n Confusion: According to exit polling and voter surveys, voters in U.S. cities with ranked-choice voting, including Portland, report that the ballot is easy to understand. They also report higher satisfaction with elections. Political science research is also overwhelmingly positive, finding that ranked-choice voting is easy to use, it empowers voters and it results in higher voter turnout – significantly higher than in cities and states with actual runoff elections.
n Constitutionality: Courts in four states have ruled that it is fully constitutional, saying that it upholds “one person, one vote,” and that the candidate with the most votes is declared the winner after all the votes have been received, sorted and counted. Ranked-choice voting elections have been held legally for years across the country, including right here in Maine.
Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians and independents across Maine are coming together to support Question 5 because they know that ranked-choice voting is a better system. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Maine studied election reforms for three years and concluded that ranked-choice voting is the best fit for Maine. Seventy-three thousand Maine citizens signed petitions circulated by 900 volunteers to put Question 5 on the ballot.
More than 500 elected officials and community leaders across Maine have endorsed Question 5. Proponents are running a grassroots campaign to educate voters about this reform.
I have long supported this common-sense, nonpartisan reform because we need a system that works. Mainers rank choices every day of their lives. It’s time that Mainers had the same power to rank candidates for public office.
Please join me in voting “yes” on Question 5 on Election Day. This is the change we need.
— Special to the Press Herald