In the last two gubernatorial elections, a combined $16 million was spent by outside special interest groups to prop up the two major party candidates with statewide negative advertising campaigns that distracted voters from the most important issues facing our state.

As this relationship with the two major parties grows, it has never been clearer: Outside special interest groups do not have our best interests at heart, and they never will.

To stem the tide of special interest money and negative campaigning, we need to adopt ranked-choice voting.

In this system, candidates have to compete for both first- and second-choice rankings. As such, negative campaigning carries major risks, by alienating an entire base of potential supporters who see the candidate as a possible second choice.

By reducing the effectiveness of negative campaigning, ranked-choice voting dilutes the influence of special interest money, which has financed the mud-slinging.

With special interest money out of the equation, ranked-choice voting would give honest, hard-working Mainers the opportunity to run for office and defend the best interests of our great state.

Most working class Mainers do not have big-money resources or relationships to run for office, but they are in touch with real Maine people. And for that, their ideas could be worth more than any amount of money a Washington outsider could raise to prop up a corrupted campaign of some career politician.

Instead of the big-money-grabbing candidates that flank our current system, isn’t it time for more open, honest, and straightforward leaders who come from the ranks of hard-working Mainers?

It’s about time we took our freedom back at the polls. I urge my fellow Maine voters to support ranked-choice voting when it goes on the ballot in November 2016.

Fred Fagin

Coopers Mills

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