Bangor Daily News
The last governor to ever carry a majority of the vote, Angus King, once said, “nobody will tell me how to vote, except the people of Maine.” As it was, King enjoyed widespread popular support in his 1998 re-election. In a chaotic four-way race for governor, his message of political independence had prevailed and resonated across party lines.
In the decades and elections since, plurality elections have failed to accommodate multi-candidate races. As King’s message of a singular allegiance to the state deteriorated in the crossfires of hyper-partisanship, prospective candidates for public office no longer had to prove their worthiness to the people of Maine — only to their party.
In the current climate, too many good men and women are dissuaded from running for office because of the conditions of our electoral process. What we need is reform, and we can start by replacing plurality elections with ranked choice voting.
In a system that requires candidates to work for 1st, 2nd and even 3rd-choice votes, ranked choice voting would reduce the influence of special interest money in politics and foster issues-based campaigns — effectively leveling the playing field and encouraging more blue-collar, middle-class Mainers to run for office.
It’s been a long time since any governor could say that he had support from a majority of Maine voters. Yet in November of 2016, we have a real opportunity to support a pragmatic solution that makes our votes count and majority rule an absolute requirement.