Maine just shook up the electoral world with its first statewide use of ranked choice voting this week. FairVote President Rob Ritchie recently sat down with National Public Radio Political Editor Ken Rudin, host of the “Political Junkie,” a podcast about national politics, to discuss how Maine reached this point and the ramifications of this momentous election.
Richie explained that Maine has a history of electing government officials without a majority of the vote, including the current Governor Paul LePage, who won both of his gubernatorial races in such a manner. His first win in fact, garnered less that 40 percent of support from Mainers.
He provided some history of ranked choice voting in Maine, which included the city of Portland adopting the reform and first using it in 2011, voters in the state supporting the switch to RCV in 2016 with the second-largest vote total for a referendum in the state’s history, and the legal battle that followed. A final state Supreme Court ruling was handed down just days before this week’s primary election.
Rudin noted Le Page continues to oppose RVC, flatly stating on Election Eay that he would not certify the results (a claim on which he has no legal footing to back up).
As for the passage of Question 1, the referendum to protect RCV for future elections, Richie said a key was the fact that voters got to use ranked choice voting before they were asked if they wanted to keep it. People who use RVC tend to want to keep it.
Now that the election was over, Rudin asked about the possibility of other states using RCV in their elections, “As Maine goes, so goes the rest of the country?” he asked.