Elliot Cutler, independent candidate for governor, and columnist Don Roberts didn’t read the memo.

Speaking at the University of Southern Maine on March 14, Cutler lamented our election system that is based on plurality rather than majority vote. Our system so often delivers a minority governor; and today has produced a stunningly dysfunctional statehouse.

If Cutler meant what he said, why hasn’t he campaigned vigorously these last three years to change the system and make his candidacy a real possibility?

He apparently has not read the memo that we are a winner-take-all system, not a parliamentary system where third parties can negotiate with stronger groups to obtain meaningful influence or a rank order voting system where a majority is eventually determined.

Instead, Cutler said his lament and then spent the rest of the hour repeating the mistakes of the past.

In my lifetime, about the same as Cutler’s, third-party candidates have only helped their polar opposites. Don’t think that small numbers don’t matter. Ralph Nader took 97,000 Florida votes, and George Bush beat Al Gore by just 537.

Similarly, in his “declaration of independence” column on March 30, Roberts becomes an independent without any preparation of a functional multiparty system.

I propose a solution in which Cutler withdraws and leads a serious effort to change Maine’s voting system to yield a majority governor. In exchange, the Democrats make electoral change a centerpiece of their platform, support Cutler with all their strength and, if elected governor, Mike Michaud appoints Cutler to direct a constitutional or electoral reform commission as appropriate. We will then thank both Cutler and Michaud for giving Maine a system that represents the people’s will rather than curse them both for prolonging dysfunction.

Phillip Davis, West Gardiner

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