We all know how Paul LePage became governor with only 39 percent of the vote: At the polls, we each had to choose just one candidate, and a Democrat and a similarly minded independent split the more liberal majority vote.

How often have people wanted to support the Green candidate, for example, but were afraid of “throwing away” their vote? So, instead, they voted for the major-party candidate they found the least objectionable, so that other one wouldn’t win?

But what if we could rank the candidates in order of preference? Say there were three:

1. The candidate a person thought would do the best job, regardless of party, regardless of whether they have a PAC funding their campaign.

2. The candidate who would be OK, if a voter couldn’t have their first choice.

3. The candidate who would be the worst for the job, in the voter’s opinion.

When all the No. 1 votes were counted, if no one candidate had a clear majority, then the candidate with the fewest No. 1 votes would be eliminated. However, the voters who preferred that candidate still would have a voice: The No. 2 choices on their ballots would be counted as No. 1 votes. In the end, we’d have an elected official who was either the first or second choice of the majority of voters.

Variations of this system already are being used in many cities across America, including Portland, which whittled down a large field of mayoral contestants to one person with majority approval.

A bill has been submitted in the State House calling for ranked voting on the state level. People who are tired of voting their fears instead of their hopes and values should contact their state representatives and senators and ask them to support ranked voting.


Claire Prontnicki


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