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Ranked Choice Voting in Portland, Maine

Ranked choice voting (RCV, or “instant runoff voting”) was used for the first time in Portland, Maine to elect the mayor in November 2011. The city voted to use ranked choice voting in November 2010 at the same time they decided to have an elected rather than an appointed mayor position. The position of Mayor in Portland had not been elected for 88 years.

The high interest in the election made it very competitive, with 15 candidates running and voter turnout about 50% higher than election officials predicted. All evidence suggests voters adjusted well to the new ballot, and reactions to the use of RCV were overwhelmingly positive.

FairVote staff members Drew Spencer and Elizabeth Hudler spoke with Mayor Mike Brennan in the summer of 2013. He described how the use of ranked choice voting made his and the other candidates' campaigns more positive and inclusive, while giving every voter a stake in the outcome.

Analysis of 2011 Election

Analysis of voters

In the final count of ballots in Portland, there were only 32 invalid ballots out of 20,212 ballots cast, or 0.16%. Also, the winner of the election, Michael Brennan, earned most first choices and was also the most successful at reaching out to supporters of other candidates and gaining 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choice votes.

FairVote Round by Round Analysis

Click here to see full round by round vote totals from Portland.

More election observations from election observer Dorothy Scheeline.

Exit Survey of Early Voters

Local Resources

You can also find more information on RCV in Portland from local government and organizations:

Portland City Clerk

League of Young Voters

FairVote