Letter: "Lewiston should opt for ranked-choice over costly and administratively inefficient runoff elections"

Press Herald 

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On Dec. 8, Lewiston voters returned to the polls to determine the winner of the runoff election between Mayor Robert Macdonald and his challenger, Ben Chin.

While Lewiston has utilized the runoff format in a number of elections, this is an administratively inefficient and financially unsustainable system – representing the most expensive method to ensure a majority winner.

Furthermore, I am concerned that runoff elections threaten the participation of active-duty servicemen and women who are unable to receive, complete and return runoff ballots in a timely manner.

Fortunately, over the past year, the group of Mainers leading the November 2016 statewide ballot initiative for ranked-choice voting has demonstrated there is a more economical way to achieve majority rule.

In a ranked-choice system, the runoff is consolidated into the general election, as voters use their ballots to rank the candidates they support, in order of preference. The counting process functions like an “instant runoff” to determine a majority winner, without having to re-open the polls for a costly second election that often stretches deep into the winter holiday season.

Lewiston should look to the ranked-choice model as a more efficient and inclusive system to ensure majority rule.

Finn Melanson, Portland

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