The Times Record Endorses RCV

The Times Record endorses ranked choice voting:

"Some day soon, you may go into a voting booth and be asked to vote for a first choice and second choice candidate, rather than a single one as you do now.

If no one wins the majority of votes — that is, 50 percent plus one — the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and his or her voters have their “second choice” votes added to the top two’s tallies. When those votes are added, the winner is the one who got the most first and second choice votes.

This is called ranked choice voting, and Portland has used the system for its mayoral election successfully. Why is it a good choice for Maine, especially? Maine has a lot of third party and unenrolled candidates who run campaigns under the Clean Elections Act, but never get a chance to govern, because the two major parties have things pretty sewed up. When an independent wins, it is hardly ever with a majority of the vote, hampering him or her in a number of ways. First, the lawmaker isn’t thought to have a mandate, there isn’t a groundswell of support in the Legislature for his or her party, and it’s difficult to get qualifying signatures if one is a member of an organized party that’s not one of the Big Two. But if third parties meet all those hurdles, in a general election, they typically have to face the idea that many partisan voters who might consider them won’t because they fear that their vote will be “thrown away.” The candidates who run even though they think they can’t win are labeled and reviled as “spoilers.”
We shouldn’t have an electoral system that “throws away” votes, and no candidate should be told he or she is “spoiling” an election. Everyone should have the right to compete in the political process without having to decide which of the two major parties is the best fit, even though neither is.

We shouldn’t have an election when a huge percentage of people vote for a candidate they don’t think is the best one because they are afraid of the worst one getting in. Independents and third parties should have an equal shot at governance — goodness knows the two major parties haven’t done so well over the last decade or so.

To the extent that ranked choice is a way to do that, we say, let’s give it our best shot.

Ranked choice may bring in candidates who don’t fit neatly into the major parties’ pigeonholes. Greens, Libertarians, and other parties that vote with the major parties out of necessity may find a new voice and a new purpose. Having these voices speak without the muffle of a national party will improve the conversation for all of us.

Independents, unfettered by party platforms, should be able to compete without party influence and party money.

Ranked choice may not be such an important issue everywhere, especially in states where people do think of themselves as partisans. But Maine has been fiercely independent, and has elected independent governors in the past. One of them is an independent senator today.

We think it’s an idea whose time has come. Please sign petitions for ranked choice if you see them, and encourage your legislators to deal with whatever constitutional constraints might prevent it from becoming law."

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