To the Editor:
Maine voters will be asked to decide whether to use ranked choice voting to fill State and federal elected positions. It’s time for us to adopt ranked choice voting, or RCV.
Today the candidate who gathers the most votes wins, perhaps with a small share of the total votes cast if more than two candidates are running. Nine of Maine’s last 11 gubernatorial elections have been won by candidates getting less than half of the votes cast. Minority winners have included Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
In ranked choice voting, voters have the option of ranking their choice of candidates, indicating their first choice, second choice, third choice etc. After the first round of counting, if no candidate has received more than half of the votes cast, the candidate getting the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who voted for him/her have their second choice votes tallied among the remaining candidates.
If no candidate has over 50 percent of the votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and second (or third) choices of people who voted for him/her are tallied. The process continues until a candidate has more than 50 percent of the votes cast and is declared the winner.
There are several advantages to ranked choice voting.
Winners can honestly claim the support of most voters.
Campaigns, designed to attract second and third choice support from a broad spectrum of voters, are more likely to emphasize positions and proposals rather than attacks on rivals. Voters can vote for their favorite candidates without concern for the complexities of spoiler candidates and divided constituencies.
This returns power to voters rather than those in a position to discourage potential candidates with overlapping positions and constituencies. Ranked choice voting gives the advantages of run-off elections without the expense, delays, and the disenfranchisement of distant voters such as active duty military personnel.
For more information, have a look at the website, www.fairvotemaine.org. The Frequently Asked Questions section has lots of specifics and examples. If you are convinced, as I am, that ranked choice voting is the way we should go, sign up and help.