The people have spoken: Ranked choice voting is back in Maine.
Activists have not only gathered enough signatures to put a referendum on the June ballot that would restore RCV in Maine, but in doing so, they’ve also ensured that this year’s primaries will be conducted using RCV as well.
According to Ballot Access News, “town clerks have already determined that it has enough valid signatures to place the referendum on the June 2018 ballot.”
If passed, this ‘People’s Veto,’ will override the Legislature’s efforts to repeal the RCV initiative, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2016 with nearly 400,000 votes, making the referendum victory the second largest in the history of Maine.
Until the vote on the People’s Veto takes place, that repeal is suspended -- which means RCV remains law in Maine and must be used in June. Maine will take a dramatic step forward for democracy in America and become the first state in the Union to use ranked choice voting to nominate candidates for election to the U.S. Congress, its governorship and other statewide offices.
“On this day we celebrate a victory for democracy,” said Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote, the leading nonpartisan champion of RCV and crucial electoral reforms
“In a remarkable effort driven by volunteers going out on wintry streets to collect signatures from their fellow Mainers, they have ensured that Maine voters will use ranked choice voting in June and be able to permanently reverse the legislature’s efforts to undo popular will and earn better choices, fairer representation, and more meaningful elections.
“The politicians who have sought to reverse the voters in Maine include a governor who won his first gubernatorial primary and general elections with less than 40 percent of the vote, and three legislative leaders who, without, RCV, could also win their primary for governor with less than majority support. But citizens know that better elections -- and better democracy -- come only when every vote counts and leaders represent all of us, not just party bases and the extremes.”
Maine -- which has not elected a governor with majority support this decade -- is a terrific example of the value of RCV. This year, the field is extremely crowded, with two dozen candidates running to replace LePage, who is term-limited out of office (13 Democrats, five Republicans, five independents and one from the Green Independent Party).
In the state’s 2nd Congressional District, there are six Democrats, and three independents challenging the incumbent, Republican Bruce Poliquin, who is defending his seat for the second time.
With so many candidates in the race, RCV will play a crucial role in the Maine election. Voters will be able to back the candidate that best shares their values and vote for their preferred candidate without worrying about wasting a vote. Ranked choice voting not only ensures voters will have a stronger voice at the ballot box, but also a candidate that wins the office with a majority of votes.
Because candidates will need to appeal to followers beyond their base, Maine voters can expect to see a more issues-driven campaign and less animosity and negative campaigning.
The signature drive was led by the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting and endorsed by a wide variety of elected officials, candidates running for office, religious leaders, nonpartisan organizations, labor unions, political parties and activists.
“We congratulate the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting on its admirable job protecting democracy for the people of Maine” Richie added. “We expect the League of Women Voters of Maine and other civic groups to do a terrific job introducing ranked choice voting to voters. We have high hopes that Maine’s secretary of state and election clerks will embrace and overcome the very real challenges of running a ranked choice voting election for the first time. In return the nation will have a lesson in how ranked choice voting will help fix our broken politics.”
Maine’s first RCV election will be on June 12.