Thursday night’s FiveThirtyEight podcast discussed Question 5 on the ballot in Maine – the option to adopt ranked choice voting (RCV) for elections in the state starting in 2018. As the team pointed out, it is especially relevant to Maine, given no Governor has been elected with a majority of the vote since 1998 – indeed, this has happened in 9 of the last 11 races.
Passage of the ballot initiative would make Maine the first state in the nation to implement RCV statewide; however, many other jurisdictions in the US already use the system, including Portland. Their experience demonstrates how RCV would make elections fairer by ensuring that voters would not have to vote strategically to avoid creating spoilers and ensure the results produce an outcome that fairly represents the will of the majority. Every voice would count equally.
Looking at other issues they touched on, research shows that: RCV has reduced negativity in campaigns; had no adverse effect on turnout; with 94% of voters in Portland saying they “fully understood” the new system; and its use has been compatible with Maine’s constitution.
Politicians across the aisle have endorsed the Yes on 5 campaign, as have editorials from the Portland Press Herald and The Times Record, among many others. And polling averages show a majority of Mainers support this bipartisan idea. This initiative is the laboratory of democracy at work, and we hope to see it approved come election night.