Ranked-choice voting represents one of the most significant improvements in voting in decades. One improvement which I haven’t seen discussed is the prospect of preserving real, accurate information about voter preferences — information which is now lost — and being able to analyze and use it to push future policy initiatives.

Currently, as voters agonize over their voting strategy in a multi-candidate election, they must decide whether to take a chance and vote their true preference, or go mainstream and vote for their less-than-ideal choice where they are hoping the bulk of other votes go. If they vote mainstream, which they often do, the fact of their true preference is lost. Once balloting is over, the only way to gauge what voters might have really preferred is through polling, which is a very poor substitute for actual data.

Under ranked-choice voting, a voter can truly vote their first and second preference (and third, fourth, etc.), and the fact of their first preference (and second, etc.) is actually recorded, and can be retained and analyzed in developing future policy.

Thus, the fact there were some concrete number of people who truly preferred the Green or Libertarian or Socialist, etc., alternative in a multi-party election can be noted and acted on. And, too, in as geographically diverse a state as Maine, the data is preserved and can be broken out geographically.

As a practical matter, while ranked-choice has been used for decades, widespread use of computers renders it easily feasible now. As a selectman in my small town, there is a need for this easily obtained information. There is no good reason not to preserve it.

Ernie Hilton


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