Voices & Choices

Maine’s largest paper: RCV worked... so Mainers voted yes

Maine’s largest paper: RCV worked... so Mainers voted yes

The Portland Press Herald is Maine’s largest newspaper in the state’s largest city. Today it published an editorial about Maine’s big election on Tuesday: one where voters voted with ranked choice voting (RCV) in statewide primary elections and upheld RCV for future primary and congressional elections, starting this fall.

Voter turnout exceed expectations. A news story on WABI-TV quoted Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap on how voters handled the ballot: “We really got very few, if any, complaints about the grid-style ballot for ranked-choice voting."

The ballot measure keeping RCV faced a potentially tough electorate. Primary electorates skew older, and Maine’s closed primary meant that its large share of unaffiliated voters weren’t able to vote in the primaries for governor. But besides running a strong campaign, RCV advocates had an ace in the hole: voters in those primaries had a chance to experience ranked choice voting before deciding whether or not they wanted to keep it. And we’ve found that to vote with RCV is to like it.

Below are highlights from the editorial, “Ranked-choice test run makes electoral history in Maine,” published June 14, 2018. It echoes the Herald’s powerful editorial after Portland first used RCV in electing its mayor in 2011. Unsurprisingly, after this positive experience, more than 70 percent of Portland voters backed RCV in the 2016 ballot question, and I suspect a comparable share voted for RCV again this week.

Maine voters Tuesday became the first in the country to use ranked-choice voting in a statewide election, and despite predictions to the contrary, there was no widespread confusion or chaos. Instead, ranked-choice voting and the related people’s veto on the fate of ranked-choice itself appeared to boost interest in the June election, which in turn showed that the voting system worked much the way supporters said it would.

Success of ranked-choice ballot question seen as ‘turning point’ in election history
From the time the ballots were printed, ranked-choice voting became part of the campaigns it would help decide…… The popularity of ranked-choice voting – despite all the effort to portray it as confusing, even un-American – means that one day it could be used in all elections, which could be accomplished through a constitutional amendment. After a successful run Tuesday, that day is a little closer.

Read today’s editorial here.

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