Under the traditional plurality voting system, the close and contentious four-way contest for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District should have devolved into a name-calling nightmare with the threat of a vote-splitting, non-majoritarian outcome.
While far from the poster child for civil campaigns, the race remains remarkably free of spoiler fears, and three of the four candidates have actually encouraged voters to vote for their competitors (just not as first choice).
That’s thanks to ranked choice voting, which Maine will use to elect two congressional representatives and one senator in the upcoming election. In a new entry on the Washington Post political blog “The Fix,” Jenny Starrs and Darron Taylor explore how this historic debut of RCV has already changed Maine’s political dynamics and its lasting legacy after Nov. 6.
Despite the rocky road to realize this reform - and the continued constitutional contest over its use in state elections - voters interviewed by the Post expressed overwhelming support.
As resident Josh Hill from Brewer, Maine, said,
“I think that it gives the people a larger voice, and you don't have to choose between red and blue, Democrat or Republican. That kind of opens up the field a little bit more and gives us more of a voice.”
And for a state with a strong independent streak fed up with polarizing politicians, more voices and choices seems an obvious choice. Perhaps Maine’s example will convince the rest of the country, too.
Read The Fix blog here.