Voices & Choices

Maine's ranked choice voting petition drive backed by Portland Press Herald

Maine's ranked choice voting petition drive backed by Portland Press Herald
The Portland Press Herald, Maine's largest newspaper, today endorsed the ballot drive for ranked choice voting in all state and congressional elections in an editorial entitled "Ranked choice voting drive first step toward reform." The editorials starts:

"The second most important thing voters can do on Election Day is to pause after casting their ballots and sign a petition to bring ranked-choice or instant-runoff voting to Maine elections. It is a voting system designed for elections with more than two candidates that is employed in a number of U.S. cities, including Portland. It fixes two of the main problems of multi-candidate elections: It guarantees that the eventual winner has the approval of a majority of the electorate, and it provides a way for people to vote for a first choice – even if it looks as though that person can’t win – and still have the ability to positively influence the election’s outcome."

The  Press Herald editors had first-hand experience with ranked choice voting in 2011, when RCV was used to elect the mayor. In this editorial after the election ("Our View: Brennan, ranked-choice voting both winners"), they wrote:

"Without ranked-choice voting this would have been a very different campaign. If they were just seeking to have the most votes on Election Night, the candidates would have targeted a number of voters, identified their supporters and made sure they turned out to the polls. In this case, about 5,000 votes from nearly 20,000 cast would have been enough.

"A candidate with a hot-button neighborhood issue could have run away with the election without ever meeting a voter from another part of town. Under the ranked-choice system, candidates were forced to engage with each other and talk to each others’ voters.

"The result was an interesting conversation about Portland and its future that would not have happened in a “turn-out-your-base” election. That debate helped clarify the job description for Portland’s mayor, and it will make life easier for Brennan when he shows up for work."

Petition backers are lining up petition gatherers on Election Day.

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